Finding the right agency – PR, creative, digital, media or anything else - is essential. And can be difficult. Everyone I know in the marketing communications world, client-side and agency, has had at least one bad experience (and in most cases, many more). When things don’t work out, both parties can end up demoralised, frustrated, disappointed and seriously out of pocket. This series of three blog posts will give some tips and pointers to make the search for the perfect partner run as smoothly as possible, and ensure the outcome reaps maximum rewards
Walk before you try to run
It sounds so simple, but adequate planning is a must if your pitch is to succeed. It‘s tempting to start making calls, look up contacts and kick-start the beauty parade. But don’t even start until you’re really clear on several critical points:
- Why are you thinking of calling a pitch? Are you looking for new skill sets, new ideas, support in key geographical regions or vertical sectors or some cost savings? No matter who you choose, a new agency means new people, new ways of working and a learning curve for everyone.
- Who’s making the decision? Decide who’s involved, get their commitment, define their roles and make sure they are going to participate throughout the process, not just at the end.
- Define your brief and your decision-making criteria. Involve your whole nominated team in defining the brief. Include details of your current situation, your business environment, and what your future goals are. Specify your timings (you won’t get the best result if you rush things), your budget and the deliverables. And be clear on what’s not negotiable. If, for example, you really want sector credibility, don’t shortlist agencies who can’t provide it.
- Prepare a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Both parties benefit from signing a confidentiality agreement early on. As the client, you can have complete trust in the agencies you talk to. In my opinion, being open and honest with potential agency partners always brings better results. Besides, open and honest is the sort of relationship most clients and agencies want, so why not start as you mean to go on?
Good clear briefs and approaches are the bedrock of successful client and agency relationships. In my next posts, I’ll look at shortlisting agencies and best practice in and after the pitch itself. Meanwhile, share your thoughts and experiences below. Who do you typically involve in agency selection? Do you find it easy to write your brief? And do you always get the sort of response you were expecting?
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