Park the Bus: How to Avoid Ill Will When Collaborating with Another Agency
PR agency teams frequently collaborate with others, such as design firms or event planning agencies. Most often it’s a satisfying experience. Sometimes it’s cause for a round of teeth gnashing. After all, the client only cares about the end result – and when your team isn’t 100% in control of the end product and something gets screwed up, you’d better be prepared to take it on the chin even if “your” part of the work was flawless.
Rolling the other guys under the proverbial bus isn’t cool – after all, the client tasked you with working as a team. Here’s how to make sure the bus stays in the garage:
- Be the devil’s advocate. Review the strategy and plan as a team. Pick it apart. We recently were tasked with booking media interviews for a client event, which had been planned by another agency. We “assumed” the event team had confirmed the date was free and clear of any conflict. After our first few media pitches, we quickly discovered the date in question was a religious holiday and several key media were not available. Fingerpointing would have been easier, but instead we worked out Plan B (and vowed to follow this very tip at all times.)
- Limit the number of cooks. Too many will definitely spoil the execution. Assign one person per agency to be the lead, with full quality control responsibility. This will save you hours of aggravation (and billable hours for the client) if something gets off track. It’s each lead collaborator’s job to manage internal minutae and drama, including ownership and resolution of any issues (before they reach the client).
- Be generous. When the joint project turns into a raging success, it’s easy to start jockeying for position. The usual modus operandi is to whip out a press release patting yourself on the back for your role in the work. How about a little humility and generosity instead – if the client is nice enough to allow you to self-promote (always ask), suggest a joint release and give kudos to both teams. Same goes for entering the work for an award – let’s not forget that it was a team effort.
As roles and responsibilities get more and more fragmented in the PR and creative services industries, agencies will find themselves collaborating with other teams much more than ever before. Time to check our collective egos at the door and do what’s best for our clients: playing well together.
Photo courtesy of quinn.anya on Flickr.