”A positive relationship, underpinned by trust and credibility, is vital for mutual growth, valuable results and long-term success for both the agency and the client. MADDISON BIJELICPR ACCOUNT COORDINATOR A good and strong client-agency relationship is vital for the success of any agency. After all, without any clients, there would be no agency! A positive relationship, underpinned by trust and credibility, is vital for mutual growth, valuable results and long-term success for both the agency and the client. Here are some practical ways that agencies can establish and foster positive relationships with their clients: KNOW YOUR CLIENT’S BUSINESS WELL Arguably, one of the most important factors in establishing a good client-agency relationship is ensuring you understand your client’s business well. More often than not, your client would have invested time researching and assessing your agency, so you should be doing the same with them! Ensure a thorough understanding of your client’s business, their target audience, and importantly, what your client is trying to achieve. Equally, it is important to ensure a thorough understanding of your client’s external environment, such as their competitors, their industry, customer segments and the trends impacting their success. With this knowledge, you can then determine your client’s competitive advantage, and identify opportunities to harness and challenges to manage. This should involve a lot of research, not just at the start of the relationship, but ongoing. The external environment for any business is dynamic, so continuously look for trends in your client’s relevant industry, changes in customer preferences and monitor their competitors closely. This is especially important in PR! The more you know about your client’s business and their industry, the better you can provide valuable insights, solutions and results to your client. COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY AND REGULARLY Any successful relationship in life relies on effective communication. It’s no different for an agency and their client. Bringing an external provider to the client sometimes means ready-to-access information and updates can be harder to obtain. Therefore, taking a proactive, out-reach approach to client engagement will help support effective communication and should be a focus for any agency. Ensure that effective channels of communication have been agreed upon and established, whether that be in-person or through preferred online channels such as Teams or Slack. Communication should be clear, open, prompt and succinct. And make sure that you communicate often! This helps to foster trust and transparency, whilst also ensuring that information and responsibilities are not misunderstood and that both parties are on the same page. SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS From the very beginning of the relationship, there should be clear and defined expectations of both the client and the agency. Timelines, budgets, project scopes and KPI’s should be agreed upon and defined – in writing – so that both parties clearly understand the responsibilities and expectations of each other. Having clear-cut expectations in writing not only helps to track the status of deliverables, but also helps to avoid possible misunderstandings and conflicts. No one wants to be in that awkward situation! TRACK AND REPORT YOUR RESULTS At the end of the day, a client wants outcomes. That’s what an agency is tasked to deliver, and that delivery, on a consistent and reliable basis, forms the essential foundation of trust. That’s why tracking and reporting performance is so important. A client needs to see evidence of the work, and that it is delivering the outcomes that matter to them. Track and report on metrics that are agreed with your client against agreed objectives, and ensure that those objectives directly align to supporting their business goals. Use credible and accurate data, insights and analytics to showcase the measurable impact and results that your work is delivering. In PR, this often comes in the form of activity-based measures such as; Media placements, audience reach and increased social media followers. Work to then determine how those activity-based measures can then be directly attributable to changes in outcome-based measures that the client ultimately cares about, which may be awareness, interest or sales. Even if initial results do not meet your client’s expectations, you should always be transparent with how things are tracking. This will help to foster trust and credibility, while also providing an opportunity to discuss and alter strategies to improve results. Of course, the other way to assess how an agency is performing is to simply ask the client. Actively seeking feedback on a regular basis should always be part of an agency’s client engagement plan to allow proactive measures to then be taken to address any areas of improvement. No agency wants to find themselves in a position of losing a client because they weren’t aware of some feedback that they could have very simply addressed. In summary, a focus on building and maintaining strong agency-client relationships is important in delivering mutual benefits for both agencies and clients. Specifically, look to thoroughly research your client’s business environment, communicate regularly and effectively, set clear expectations for both parties and regularly track your results and progress.