The agency relationship is often paved with good intentions and frustrations from both parties.

Whether the starting seed is a bad brief, unrealistic expectations, or a transactional mindset on the brand’s part; or an inexperienced manager, the inability to manage scope, or an overloaded team on the agency’s end, relationships can be hard to start and to build.

Sometimes, it’s the environment that the scope and results are created for that are unachievable, no matter the confidence levels of the communicators involved.

Other times, it’s the shifting tides as leadership, strategy and opportunity coincide leading to changes with goals and scope.

Many communicators on both sides of the equation have been burnt, or contributory to burning bridges and connections before.

At the end of the day, the relationship must deliver goals and results.  

Regardless, the relationship was created to deliver results.

These results matter, as they contribute to the credibility and reputation of both the inhouse communicator and the agency team with various stakeholders.

Can results be delivered without the actors being in a positive relationship?

Yes. Arguably, it will be painful for both parties and a retainer that will not likely be renewed but results are independent of feelings.

However, the quality of many areas – creativity, concepts, execution – are improved when all parties are in a good relationship.


Can goals and impact be delivered without frustration and tears?

Goals, objectives, and how the outcomes are set up to deliver impact begins with clear communications, a good brief, and proper project management.

These components are enhanced by a good working relationship and mutual understanding that both the inhouse communicator and the agency contribute to.

Working hand in hand with is not just a partnership; it’s a collaboration that thrives on mutual respect, effective communication, and shared goals.

To this end, the relationship can begin and be sustained by focusing on the following areas:

Establish open lines of communication from the start of the relationship.

Regular meetings, brainstorming sessions, and a well-structured feedback loop ensure that everyone is on the same page. This not only prevents misunderstandings but also fosters an environment where creative ideas can flourish.

It is crucial to align goals and expectations.

The agency is not just an external entity; they’re an extension of your team. By sharing vision, values, and objectives, the agency can tailor strategies to resonate with your brand identity.

Trust is at the core of any successful collaboration.

You selected the agency for their expertise, and it is important to provide them with the freedom to explore innovative approaches.

Celebrate milestones together.

Just as you tackle challenges together, come to celebrate victories as a team. Recognising and rewarding achievements, whether they’re big media placements or small wins, fosters a positive atmosphere that encourages excellence.

Feedback is a powerful tool for improvement.

Provide constructive feedback that helps your agency refine their strategies. Likewise, welcome their insights into your internal processes, creating a feedback loop that benefits both parties.

Honesty is paramount.

Openly discuss challenges and setbacks, setting the stage to collaborate on solutions. This transparency not only strengthens the partnership but also enables us to emerge stronger from any setbacks.

Here are 3 SMART goals to set, with dual objectives of creating impact within your organisation and building better relationships with your agency team.

Wanting a good relationship with your agency requires action.

One way to approach both proactively and constructively, is to use SMART goals to do so. The SMART methodology provides information that can be used to guide decision.

Here are 3 SMART goals to set up, together with your agency, to build better relationships.

Goal: Generate creative and innovative ideas and concepts

By fostering collaborative efforts between your team and the agency, aim to generate innovative ideas and concepts that contribute to the development of creative campaigns capturing attention. Aim for at least a 20 percent increase in engagement metrics, such as click-through rates and social media interactions, within the next quarter.

Goal: Become more efficient by creating processes that benefit execution

Within the next three months, leveraging the partnership to optimise processes to adapt swiftly to capitalise on emerging opportunities to provide messaging to the media, or on owned/shared channels. This will lead to a 15 percent reduction in campaign execution time and a 10 percent decrease in resource allocation, improving overall efficiency.

Goal: Increase content excellence to improve audience engagement

Within the next three months, enhance the quality of your content by collaborating closely with the agency. This collaboration will lead to a 20 percent increase in content engagement metrics, such as social media shares and comments, as well as a 15 percent improvement in content relevance scores based on audience feedback.


Sidebar: Trust is the key to achieving goals.  

When it comes to fostering positive relationships and yielding successful outcomes with our agency, one unshakable truth emerges.

Trust is the key that unlocks the door to collaborative excellence.

This cornerstone principle forms the bedrock upon which your partnership is built, creating a framework that facilitates seamless communication, shared visions, and harmonious efforts.

Just as a well-oiled machine operates most efficiently when its parts are synchronised, your collaboration flourishes when trust flows freely, enabling you to navigate challenges and pursue innovative ventures with confidence.

The agency is not just an external entity; it’s an integral part of our extended team. Trusting their expertise and insights empowers you to open ourselves to fresh perspectives and ideas, fostering an environment where creativity flourishes.

This trust acts as a bridge, connecting our goals, values, and aspirations, allowing you to align strategies that resonate with your brand identity. It’s this mutual trust that empowers your agency to explore uncharted territories, propose daring strategies, and ultimately deliver campaigns that captivate your audience’s imagination.

The profound impact of trust yields tangible results that speak volumes.

As you entrust the agency with your brand’s reputation and visibility, this trust echoes in the measurable impact you want to broadly achieve — increased brand recognition, heightened audience engagement, and even substantial growth on the bottom line.

Here are 3 more medium-term high-impact goals to work with your agency on.   

SMART goals can help inhouse communicators plan and provide guidance to their partner agency. This provides direction, and shared objectives and goals for the agency to deliver on.

If done successfully, this increases trust and confidence between both parties, increasing the momentum and desire to find more shared goals to work on.

These high-impact goals when presented in a SMART format as follows lack details and should be customised to map to your own organisation’s needs and policies.

Goal: Establish/reinforce thought leadership status and reach

Over the next six months, the aim is to establish your brand as a thought leader within your industry. By leveraging the expertise of both your internal team and the agency, seek to secure at least five high-profile speaking engagements at industry conferences, securing coverage in three major industry publications, and increasing your selected social media following by 15 percent with content that demonstrates our thought leadership.

Goal: Increase measurable impact of campaigns

Over the next year, the collaboration between teams will be targeted at maximising the measurable impact of your campaigns. By aligning strategies, messages, and media outreach, we anticipate achieving a minimum of 25 percent growth in brand visibility, a 30 percent increase in audience engagement across platforms, and a 5 percent rise in direct conversions contributing to bottom-line growth.

Goal: Build a resilient partnership

The goal is to reinforce our partnership’s resilience. Over the next two quarters, we will work collaboratively to transform obstacles into opportunities, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in campaign setbacks and an increased ability to pivot strategies effectively, ultimately enhancing the overall success rate.

The adoption of SMART goals can provide both a strategic and practical path to improve results and outcomes with the agency partnership.

By proactively infusing innovation, efficiency, measurable impact, and resilience into goals and campaign, you and the team can deliver high quality content, establish thought leadership, and maximising the impact of your initiatives.

The structured approach will allow you to deliver positive outcomes to your stakeholders and contribute towards your reputation within your organisation.

I provide communications and PR solutions for organisations and communicators through counsel, consultancy, training and solutions. With over 20+ years in the industry, we have created frameworks, methods and content that enable you and your team to launch, grow, level up and earn revenue effectively and efficiently.

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