Result and success-oriented as well as a partnership of equals - this is what an ideal cooperation between company and agency looks like. However, some partnerships are miles away from this ideal. A lot can go wrong right from the start. Here are five tips that companies should heed when working with PR service providers.
#1 Failing to plan is like planning to fail
Whoever contacts a communications agency with no idea of what a possible cooperation might look like has actually already lost the game. Neither the company nor the agency benefits from such an approach. What is expected from the cooperation with the agency? Where do you need external support and what tasks will your own communications department continue to perform? Should the agency provide support in classic PR? Should it launch social media campaigns or establish influencer relations? What budget is available? Companies should always clarify these questions in advance.
#2 Define communication goals
Planning also means that companies should be clear about their communication goals. Above all, those responsible should think about why they want to work with an agency: do they simply want to raise their brand’s profile or is it a matter of repositioning? Which target groups should PR work focus on? What are the relevant markets the company wants to communicate in? In order to make cooperation as time- and cost-efficient as possible, it is advisable to set targets before companies approach an agency. The rule of thumb is: no inquiry without a concept. The extent to which certain goals are realistic should then be clarified with the agency.
#3 The perfect agency match
The next step is to get down to business: choosing the right agency. Companies often make the mistake of believing that PR agencies are all the same but there are clear differences between the service portfolios as well as the technical focal points. While some agencies are active in the lifestyle scene, others focus on the public sector, while others dedicate themselves to digital topics. A thorough search for suitable agencies therefore pays off. The more the professional focus, style, values, creativity and strategy of an agency correspond to those of your company, the better. Efficient cooperation can only be established if the company and the agency pull in the same direction. It is also advisable to activate your own network and inquire about experiences and recommendations.
#4 A dialogue between equals
What applies on a personal level also counts in business: communication is everything. If you clearly define and express your needs and wishes, you create sustainable relationships. That's why it's a good idea right from the start to create opportunities for open exchange. For example, fixed appointments such as weekly calls or meetings are useful for both sides to keep up to date and exchange information. Current challenges or problems should also be discussed as directly as possible. Informal meetings or agile workshops can also promote creative exchange and have a positive influence on cooperation. A cross-company team should also be a good match between people. After all, PR is nothing if not a people business. Ideally, this works immediately. If not, both sides should not shy away from addressing difficulties and thinking about staff changes in the team. However, it is always important to communicate both as partners and equals.
#5 Successful cooperation
It is no secret: the goal of any cooperation is always the communicative success. To understand this, transparency is key. Not only companies should communicate their ideas clearly, but agencies should also be expected to produce regular reports. This pays off in terms of mutual trust and strengthens the relationship between companies and service providers. In order to discuss the status quo and the strategy for the future together, a personal meeting at least twice a year is also advisable. It is always important that successes are valued together to motivate both sides in the long term.
Companies should approach agencies with the most concrete ideas possible and communicate clearly what they expect from the cooperation. At best, the right PR partner should have expertise in the respective industry and fit in with their own values and working methods. As part of the cooperation, a dialogue between equals is of particular importance. An honest and transparent exchange as well as the joint celebration of success motivates and helps to establish a long-term partnership.