The days of traditional vendor/client relationships between businesses and communications agencies are numbered. Surface-level and transactional relationships don’t meet the needs of either anymore.
We believe that both companies and agencies deserve something better. They need to build strong, deep partnerships.
Why? Because agencies that get insight into the organizations they work with see the big picture. They develop communications strategies that are a part of the big picture, that understand the vision and how their work fits into it.
Likewise, organizations need partners that commit to learning their needs. They need partners that provide expertise on how to meet their goals.
At JR Communications, we build these kinds of partnerships with our clients. We know why it matters. We’ve seen firsthand how this approach leads to successful outcomes. In our work with United Way of the National Capital Area, we’re fully integrated into their in-house marketing and communications team. We attend staff meetings, keep lines of communication open, and collaborate closely on outreach for key events, such as the annual Do More 24. By working in partnership, we’re able to create cohesive strategies that help United Way NCA succeed.
Today’s clients need a holistic approach that incorporates communications and marketing with the organization’s operations and long-term goals. So, how can organizations and communications agencies build these relationships?
Get to Know Each Other
From the beginning of each working relationship, there needs to be a collaborative approach. Organizations and their new communications partners should take time to have wide-ranging discussions in the introductory phase. They shouldn’t talk only about the parameters and requirements of their communications programs. Instead, they should have a broad exploration into the organization’s past, its current needs, and its future goals.
That’s how we start our partnerships. These open dialogues let both sides peel back layers of information. They uncover details like who the sources of information are and what areas of opportunity exist. Who does what? Where does the organization see itself in five years? What are its current practices? These initial conversations often transform into brainstorming sessions, where the new partners come up with new ideas together and get a feel for each other’s perspectives.
Based on our experience, we also know that it’s key for organizations to be open. This means inviting their communications agencies to listen in on meetings and other internal discussions. A lot of information can be gleaned from sharing like this, instead of keeping separate functions in the dark about each other. This lets their agency ensure that all recommendations and strategies align with the organization’s goals.
Once they’ve started to get to know each other, there’s a bigger step to follow. They need to build trust.
This phase of any new partnership takes time and commitment. It’s worth it.
Here’s an important way to start building trust. A good communications partner will make honest recommendations. The organization’s leadership may be set on a certain communications plan. If the communications partner’s experience tells them a different strategy will get the organization closer to its goals, then they need to be honest. These recommendations take into consideration the agency’s expertise, the audience’s preferences, and the organization’s goals.
We know that a good communications partner provides more than, for example, press releases and social media. They provide strategic guidance to their clients. They teach them how communications contribute to their goals, what they can do to strengthen their messaging, and why certain strategies will build stronger connections with their audience.
Additionally, it’s crucial to deliver on promises. Organizations depend on their partners doing what they say they’re going to do, when they’re going to do it.
This is how partners build and keep trust.
Organizations and communications agencies that form strong, deep partnerships achieve more.
By being transparent and open from the beginning, organizations can allow their communications partners to truly understand their needs. As a result, they can develop better strategies that align with each organization’s brand and mission. They consider long-term goals and make recommendations that keep them on that path.
And honesty makes it possible for organizations to understand what communications can do and where to invest their communications efforts to drive results.
Most importantly, audiences benefit from what happens when organizations and communications agencies form these partnerships. They get a cohesive experience, with messages that are accurate, consistent, and interesting. Audiences are in demand. Communication strategies that come from a strong partnership are the best way for an organization to compete for their audience’s attention.
Agencies like JR Communications commit to forming partnerships with their clients because it’s the best way to deliver results that make a real difference.