Latest industry views and advice

January 7

What needs improving in client agency relationships for marketing communications activity to be successful and everyone involved to be happier?

Manchester B2B PR and content marketing agency, Metamorphic PR, sat in on a recent Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) session which revealed that – unsurprisingly – both sides of the partnership have issues with each other!

An audience poll taken during the session among client-side and agency participants showed their biggest respective bugbears, starting with clients:

client poll - CIM (2)

As the results showed, virtually half of clients are looking for better performance in research and strategic insight, while almost a quarter want more multi-channel thinking from their agency partners.

But, it takes two to tango, and agencies have their own views on what can improve the client-agency conundrum:

agency poll - CIM (2)

While clients may not believe themselves guilty of giving “unclear objectives and KPIs”, agencies appear to be experiencing exactly that according to the poll. Equally, the effectiveness of the client briefing process is called into question by the poll findings.

How to get client-agency relations working better

CIM session speaker Charlotte Plant, Business Development Manager at Red Apple Creative explained that in order for agency and client to really work well together, achieve objectives and goals efficiently and effectively the briefing stage is key and should address:

  • What are you doing?
  • How are you doing it?
  • Who is doing it?
  • When are you doing it?
  • Why are you doing it?
  • Where do you want public/businesses/stakeholders to be directed?


Plant said this should be done per objective because clients often try to fit as many objectives into a single brief as possible which, in the agency world, is the equivalent of throwing 10 tennis balls at one time and expecting them to catch each one. Clients should set out each goal or objective separately, even if the agency ends up with four or five different briefs. Then, each objective and desired outcome is clear and the agency can deliver a good, successful campaign in order to achieve the goals.

Fellow CIM session speaker, Marina Lumley, Client Services Director at business evaluation company Aprais UK, explained the importance of measuring and evaluating the performance of agencies and clients in order to identify strong and weak points and make improvements that will help to deliver campaigns more successfully.

Lumley says effective assessment shouldn’t be one-way, but four-way or 360°; in other words, the client and agency should evaluate themselves and then each other. Naturally, the feedback needs to be constructive if the right improvements are to be made.

A Metamorphic PR blog post on the client-agency relationship theme includes a 7-point approach that you can throw into the mix of making working relationships better.

The bottom line – as ever – is that clients and agencies need to communicate more effectively. This image from a US report into agency and brand marketing leaders’ views on the topic – apart from showing two near-naked men – sums it up well. Play nicely out there!


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