Know my firm, know my sector: comms directors reveal 'rules of attraction' for agencies

Knowledge of a client's business or sector is the number one thing comms directors look for when choosing a PR consultancy, according to new PRCA research.

The trade body has surveyed its panel of in-house comms directors to find out the "rules of attraction" ahead of Valentine’s Day.

Respondents said the number one attribute that they were looking for during their initial meeting with a consultancy was "perceived knowledge of my business/sector" (71 per cent); followed by "chemistry/personality fit of team" (58 per cent); and "results for other clients/third party endorsement" (46 per cent).

Ian Crowder, head of PR at The AA, said: "The first meeting will generate subjective views on both sides and can help pave the way for a longer-term relationship, provided the other key boxes on cost, creativity, and understanding of business are ticked."

The most frequent cause of client/consultancy relationships breaking down was "less impressive results from the agency" (71 per cent); followed by "less impressive creative ideas" (62 per cent); and "ineffective communications between agency and in-house" (46 per cent).

Comms leaders said it was either very important (79 per cent) or fairly important (17 per cent) to meet the team that will work on the account. Only four per cent said it was fairly unimportant, and none said it was not important.

Respondents stated that they currently oversaw anywhere between one and six agencies. Retained relationships generally last anywhere between three and ten years, and projects typically last between three and 12 months.

Julie Constable, PRCA business consultant, said: "Clients are busy people and if they are giving up their time, they expect to see evidence of a strong track record, to meet a team of people with good insight into their business and its challenges. It's all about being relevant and focused.

"The first client meeting has to work on so many levels but ultimately people buy people. So once all the hygiene factors are out of the way, it pays to get your best people in the room with the right knowledge, experience and enthusiasm to work with the client."

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