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Share the love: how to build the best client-agency relationships

Posted by Louise Palmer on 14th March 2024

Working in PR, we’re in the business of making a name for our clients. But that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate a bit of recognition ourselves.

We’re continuously striving for those ‘YES!’ moments — landing an interview, securing a media splash, running a ‘wow’ event, launching a successful campaign, etc.

But what really makes a difference is when clients step back for a moment and show appreciation for our efforts.

Yes, we have agreed ‘deliverables’ so, arguably, clients should be getting what they expect. But we’re not just working through a list every week.

If you’re in agency PR, you’ll know it’s not just a job. We care about our work. And we’re motivated to make a difference — and a note of recognition from our clients when we do can really make our day.

If you’re happy and you know it…

Ok, maybe you don’t literally need to clap your hands. But if your PR team has done great work, give them some metaphorical applause.

Successful PR relies on true partnership and that feeling of being ‘in it together’. If you’re always quick to point out an issue — please be just as quick to show genuine appreciation when things go really well.

If you’re not sure how, here are some examples that I love of how our clients are doing this for our team:

  • Take it to the top. Recently a client emailed me, my fellow co-MD, and our CEO to tell us very clearly how much they loved their team and why we must never even think of making a change. The best bit? They didn’t just tell us — they copied every member of their Wildfire team to make sure they knew how much they are loved and why we should feel the same (we already did, of course).
  • Make it fun. Our CEO Debby reminded me recently of a client who used to send us a photo of Johnny Bravo when he was happy with a piece of coverage, a content piece, an interview etc. So we started putting that into some internal objectives — to bag ourselves three ‘Johnny Bravos’ in a year. It was fun, but also a big incentive to go above and beyond because we knew how much the client appreciated our efforts.
  • Tell the world. As a PR agency, we’re certainly not in the business of making ourselves famous — but it’s a great feeling when we get a shout-out for our efforts when we do just that for others. Earlier this month, on the back of an intensive launch, a client promoted one of our campaigns on LinkedIn and tagged our team. Instantly, it made all the hard work infinitely worth it because they’d publicly recognised the contribution we’d made.
  • Share the love. And in our case, it’s a love of doughnuts! Every couple of months, a case of doughnuts — or a box of chocolates — unexpectedly arrives at the office with a note “Thanks for all your hard work team”. I perhaps love this approach from a long-standing client the most. Because it’s not about recognising a big campaign or a particularly intense period — it’s about stopping every now and then to thank the team for their ongoing commitment and hard work.
  • Do it in the moment. Thanks or acknowledgement doesn’t need to be planned and considered. We have a lovely client who regularly sends me slacks out of the blue — there’s little explanation but always a clear message “XXXX is BRILLIANT!”. It’s an ‘in the moment’ reaction to something great the team has just done — and they want to make sure I know about it.

So, if your agency team is working hard, delivering results, and helping you to stand out, please shout about it. Tell them. Tell their boss. Tell your boss — tell the world!

It’ll mean more than you probably realise — and you’ll get the very best from your PR team as a result.

Louise Palmer

Deftly switching between business and consumer accounts, the focus for Louise remains the same; how can Wildfire tell clients’ stories in a way that is faithful, relevant and engaging? Her wide technology PR experience makes Louise an agile Managing Director, combining the strategic management of PR programmes with a hands-on approach to get under the skin of clients and motivate her teams.