A relationship between PR freelancer and their client that is falling apart is excruciating and expensive for both parties.
If you see the red flags listed below, it’s time to pause and do some repair work before you both burn time, energy and emotional capital on things that aren’t working.
Aside from the human cost of it being a miserable position to be in for all concerned, real value is destroyed in a number of ways (which will almost certainly far outweigh the cost of anticipating and dealing with the problem before it arises).
The critical thing is the costs are to both parties not just the ‘supplier’ of freelance PR services so it’s in the interests of both to protect from these losses.
The financial and non-financial costs of a misfiring relationship between client and PR Freelancer -
- Wasted Effort: Badly briefed or executed work has to be re-done at one or other’s cost
- Quality: Work that leaves the agency is likely to be inferior or followed up with less conviction, affecting its impact
- Ceding Space: Competitors sensing this may capture market share by increasing spend
- Cost of Replacement: A complete breakdown may end the relationship, taking the client out of the promotional sphere for months while a new agency is selected and bedded in
- Value Down the Pan: The intellectual capital built up when the going was good is lost
- Fighting is Expensive: Either side may end up in time consuming and expensive contract disputes
Invest a little to protect a lot – both of you!
Each party should invest a little bit each month in building up the goodwill. Problem solving with trust in the bank is a *lot* easier than starting cold.
It is hard to suggest a percentage of how much time each month should be invested in avoiding this loss of value in the first place, but basic common sense suggests that it should embraced by both parties at the outset and considered as being to the advantage of both, not the job of one party or the other to make all the running.
So what are the six characteristics of a healthy, high performing relationship which aims to create long term value from each party’s strengths?
How would you score your key relationships, whether you are a client marketer/agency owner or the PR freelancer engaged?
- Questions are Welcomed: Do both parties actively encourage the voicing of questions and concerns and regard it not as a sign of weakness or ignorance about the other’s business, but the first step to better understanding?
- Sign-Offs: Decision-making should be clear in three ways: Who needs to be consulted, who gets to make decisions and who should be informed on the outcomes?
- Measures of Success: Do the ways that things are measured give an accurate and complete picture and do they enable decisions to be made about future allocation of resources?
- Intellectual Capital: Do both parties have a clear understanding of each other’s role in being innovative and generating ideas with strategic potential and is this reflected in remuneration?
- Shared View: Do both parties have a common view of the kind of relationship needed to deliver each other’s business goals?
- Processes & Problems: Are there clear processes in place for “back office” parts of the relationship to function and are they adequately separated from impinging on decisions – invoicing, changes of scope or deadline etc. Is there a well understood method of raising issues of either’s non-compliance without it risking the relationship?
The process of hiring a PR Freelancer that we operate is based on the client and freelancer agreeing terms of business and scope of work between them. We are not party to the contract but as many freelancers working through us have observed it can be helpful to have a third party be ‘witness’ to the start of the working relationship and if we can, we will try to be a problem solver.
For more thoughts on how to brief a PR Freelancer see the blog entry linked.