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8 things your agency wish you knew

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There are countless social media pages and viral memes dedicated to the frustrations those working at an agency often feel. And most are the direct result of clients whose expectations aren’t exactly tethered to reality. To help your company avoid becoming the subject of an #agencyprobs post, we asked KNBeings what they wish their clients understood (which helped us realize what we need to explain better to our clients). Here are some common client misconceptions we’d like to clear up:  

Trust our expertise. When dining at a five-star restaurant, would you ever consider going into the kitchen and telling the chef what ingredients to use in your meal? Unlikely. How you work with your agency should be similar. Part of what you pay an agency for is competence and experience. So have a little faith in the experts you’ve hired.

Stick with the SOW. Staying with the restaurant example — when you order an entrée, you don’t expect an appetizer, dessert, and a few drinks to be included at no cost. Why? Because you only ordered and agreed to pay for the entrée. It’s no different with your agency. Understand the scope of work (SOW) you approved, and don’t request deliverables outside of it.

We’re good, not God. Unfortunately, we do not have Sundar Pichai’s personal cell number, and we do not control Google. This means we cannot make a negative review or unfavorable article disappear from the Internet immediately and forever. We do have numerous ways of securing favorable coverage and ensuring good news about your company is highlighted, which allow us to counteract the undesirable, but we can’t cancel it.

Other things we can’t control: media. Once we secure coverage and an interview subject, time, and date are agreed to, it’s set. Barring a legitimate emergency, we can’t attempt to change the schedule or deadline. While we’ll do our due diligence and prepare you as much as possible, we also can’t control how a journalist behaves, the questions they’ll ask, or the quotes they’ll use. And sometimes, the editorial gods are in a bad mood and the story gets killed. We’ll do all we can to avoid this, but ultimately, it too is out of our control.

No rapid results. Remember the lesson from The Tortoise and the Hare — slow and steady wins the race. While we all love a little instant gratification, meaningful results take time and are the product of months of planning, research, writing, pitching, relationship building, creative ideation and more. Your agency is focused on the long game.

Frustrating feedback. When giving feedback, provide specifics. Simply saying, “that’s not what I envisioned,” isn’t helpful. Include details that will help your agency partner get it right the first time, the next time. 

Dream big but start small. Don’t dismiss lesser-known publications because you’re only focused on coverage in the New York Times. While we don’t necessarily subscribe to the belief “no press is bad press,” we do believe turning down press because the outlet is not a household name isn’t wise. Trade media and smaller outlets are often the key to building your reputation as a thought leader, and usually they’re a more direct channel to your target audience.

Respect boundaries + time. Agency partners are an extension of your company, but there’s a reason you don’t invite them to the holiday party or contribute to their 401k — because they are not internal employees. Don’t expect them to be available after hours, on weekends, or at the last minute. While exceptions are made for urgent matters, please don’t call your agency contact on a Saturday afternoon just to run an idea by them or send an email after 5pm and expect a response before you go to sleep.

Amy Roberts

Amy serves as the Vice President of Communications and Client Services at KNB Communications, where she enjoys a proven track record of producing innovative and persuasive storytelling campaigns, securing top-tier media coverage, and driving corporate vision. Her extensive experience in the healthcare industry includes serving as the Public Relations Director at Intermountain Healthcare, where she led crisis communications, media relations, and community outreach efforts for more than a decade. Prior to becoming a PR exec, Amy spent years on “the other side of the microphone” as both a print and broadcast journalist. Her career has been punctuated with prestigious recognition, including two Edward R. Murrow Awards. She continues to freelance write for a number of publications.


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