The other day, I met a Dircom of a pharmaceutical company, who was tremendously disappointed because a director general had forced him to work with a communications agency, that he was not quite convinced by. His reaction, before he had even given them a chance, was to say “I am not going to trust them because I´m sure that this is going to go badly. I´m sure that we will have to change in a few months.”
After speaking with him, I could not help but reflect on how it was possible that a company had decided to hire a communications agency without understanding how to make the relationship between them work.
Almost always this occurs because of what amounts to silly reasons: they have not hired what I wanted, I do not what to share the information because it will do me in, I am the only one that makes the decisions and I want only my plan to be put in action…but none of these are sufficient reasons to put the relationship in jeopardy.
Be that as it may, in my opinion, I think it is important to accept what is and try to find a way to form a team and work together. That is the only way to create a sense of confidence between the company and the communications agency, a relationship between true allies.
Here are three key points that I consider fundamental in making sure this relationship starts off strong:
1. Get to know the power of communication: Often the person who manages the company´s communication does not know how to communicate or even comes from another department. Others know how it works. However, ultimately, it is fundamental to understand what communication is, and the power it can have in a company and how it all fits together. In this way, you will be able to assess and understand the work that agencies do and you will empower the Communications Department within the company.
2. Be willing to accept advice: Offer all the information available and share the vision and advice of your agency-this always has its merits. In fact, this kind of advice is helpful to the Dircom as a new perspective that perhaps had not been previously considered and/or is a valuable perspective as it is based on experience and knowledge of the sector.
3. Readiness to make decisions: It makes no sense to put together a press release for an event a month before it happens (although unfortunately this happens in order to get approval from compliance) nor should you refute rumours of firings or address a company crisis weeks after it has happened… Communication has to be agile but of course closely monitored.
These are some pointers that one has to keep in mind when putting together a strong team between a company and a communications agency. Do you agree or do you believe that there are others? I invite you to join this debate.