There are a few obvious pointers when choosing the right Communications partner, a bit like your friends you don’t always have to get along with them, but good chemistry does help. And choose carefully, because with the right choice you could be together a long time.
A good agency is like a good restaurant. Same quality control, attention to detail, desire to please.
There are front of house staff; maître d’hôtels, account executives, sommeliers, planners that must have the knowledge and skill to interpret what the customer wants or needs and well as explaining the plat du jour.
There are the back of house staff; the chefs du cabinets, art directors, copy strategists, artists and writers who create and deliver the vision, excellence and ideas.
There are the chefs de partie, managers, expediters, traffic and production teams who ensure that the right message and work gets delivered to the right table on time.
Supporting all are the supervisors, cashiers, accounts and receptionists required in any business to ensure smooth operation and accurate billing.
On top of that the suppliers – Butchers, Fruit and Veg merchants, the Media, Fishmongers, Production Companies, Wine Merchants, Contractors, etc. – are equally important to ensure that all the ingredients are of the finest quality and in season.
All must play their part. Good food or Creativity will compensate for bad service, but consistently bad food or Creativity will never be overcome by great service, weakness in one area will impact on another and detract from the overall experience. Just as you can tell how passionate a good Restaurant is about the package when you walk in, you can sense a good (or bad) agency almost immediately.
Are they in the right time at the right place – for you. There’s no point going to the flashiest designer or Michelin starred restaurant if you just want a logo to fit in with existing brand identity or a Hamburger. Likewise you don’t go to blunt pencil design or a food stall if you need a corporate make-over or wedding catered for. Trust your own instinct as you would a good chef.
Can they manage all or some of your needs? Are you looking for a one-stop shop or just one specific skill, a table d’hôte or à la carte. Most agencies are jacks of all trades and can provide the full service adequately. Others offer specific specialist skill sets or alternative cuisines. There appears to be recent movement back toward the set menu as opposed to the graze or buffet option. Decide on what’s best for you but don’t just go for fad or flavour of the month.
Do you have a budget? It is remarkable how flexible things have become but you still can’t expect star cuisine for diner prices. You might sometimes have a voucher or get a bargain but be realistic in your expectations of your wallet when you approach the menu and you’ll be surprised what can be achieved.
In some magical relationships you will achieve the magical trinity of quality, service and price in one restaurant or even campaign. Mostly though it stands to reason that you need to decide which two of the trinity you need to achieve, and balance your needs and expectations accordingly. Be clear in your particular dietary needs as they will dictate your future partner’s approach.
And remember. Never sign off on or order something you’re not comfortable with. It’s a sure recipe for disaster.
This article published in the Sunday Business Post on February 16th, 2014