Jackie Hafner July 23, 2013 | 05:19:38

Managing Multiple Agency Relationships

Being a successful PR pro goes hand-in-hand with successfully navigating multiple relationships around you: getting the media what they need, on deadline; answering to multiple supervisors who oversee different accounts; and of course, making all your clients happy.

If the juggling act among media, supervisors, colleagues, and clients weren’t enough, now throw more agencies into the mix.  This might include PR firms that focus on another region or vertical than yours, or a group with a completely different function, like an ad or event agency.  Relationships with other teams can be challenging. We rarely have any say in the selection of these other agencies or the work they do, and it’s easy to become competitive when your skills or services overlap. Here are some tips to achieve and maintain a successful multi-agency relationship.

Get personal.   Have you ever met someone whose “email personality” was so different from their actual nature that you misjudged them?  It’s easy to misinterpret something in writing, or to form inaccurate opinions about someone with whom you’ve only communicated online.  Avoid this by getting to know the other agency staffers on a more personal level.  Instead of having your introductory meeting over the phone, suggest doing it in-person or via video.  If possible, hold in-person meetings every quarter (rotating who hosts is a good way to minimize travel and inconvenience) and even consider annual team-building events.  Bottom line – if you know the other agencies personally, your working relationship will be better.

Become allies. You’re all working towards the same goal – your client’s success – so instead of letting your competitive side take over, think of the other teams as an extended support system.  Next time you’re in a creative bind, consider bouncing your idea off a partner agency instead of the person in the cube next to you.  Besides, who’s better to brainstorm with than someone else that lives and breathes the account like you do?

Define roles and goals.  Never assume (you know what they say about assuming…) that partner agencies will have the same vision as you when it comes to dividing and conquering.  If your roles aren’t clearly delineated, or if there are potential areas of overlap, tackle them at the start of your relationship.
Being a good partner will make your job – and life – easier, and the client will appreciate your professionalism. Then, too, you never know where new relationships can lead; it’s no secret that many business opportunities come from other agencies, and the communications world is a small one.

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