Jessie ClapperJessie Clapper

Throughout the course of my PR career I’ve had the opportunity to work on the agency side, client side, as a consultant and as an agency representative on-site with the client.  My experience has enabled me to get to know the good, bad and scary parts of working with various brands and organizations.

In order for a relationship to grow, your agency should know the scary things about your clients’ businesses:  What keeps you up at night? What problems could be bubbling underneath the surface? What are your company’s challenges and realities? By apprising your agency team about these issues and concerns, your PR shop can provide you better counsel and sharper service.

However, being left intentionally in the dark is one of the truly scary things an agency team can experience. So, in the spirit of Halloween, here are some spooky things clients should consider when working with a communications agency.

Pumpkins outside NYC brownstonephoto: Sharlene Spingler

• Skeletons in your closet. Clients can be apprehensive or slow to share pieces of information or, even worse, not share all of the known facts upfront. Your agency team can help you the most if we fully understand your vulnerabilities as well as your strengths. Preparing you and your team for company or product weaknesses is key to both client and agency success.

• Ghosts of agencies’ past. Entering into a new agency relationship is a chance to dive into what did and didn’t work with you and your previous agency team. Be honest with us—and yourselves—and let us know of any “watch outs” within your organization, known limitations within your own team and what the agency can do to make the transition as seamless as possible.

• No tricks, please. Just like your brand or organization, your agency doesn’t like surprises. Please remember agencies welcome feedback—good and bad—in a timely manner. Rather than bottle up something you’re not pleased about, tell the PR team in a timely fashion, so it can adjust accordingly. At the same time, please tell us when you like what we are doing.

We appreciate you letting the appropriate people at your organization know that PR is a partner and not a vendor. As PR pros, it’s our job to make you look great, but we can only do that with proper support from you and others in your organization.

A great agency-client partnership is just that—a partnership. Our success is your success. Keep the scary stuff to a minimum, and don’t keep us in the dark.

Happy Halloween.

* * * 

Jessie Clapper is senior counselor at Spong. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter, @JessieClapper