Whether you are an owner-led business, an up-and coming brand, or a multinational organisation, you are in a constant struggle to capture the attention of your various customers and stakeholders.

Communications plays a critical role, that goes beyond simple publicity, in supporting and sharing key information and content to your audiences.

Unfortunately, no person is an island, and it is challenging managing multiple audiences, countries, markets and products/services, to be able to manage all communications independently.

This is where the various agencies, consultants and contractors come in.

They are a lifeline and a support where the projects start to and become overwhelming – due to the number, nature, and nonsense that must be dealt with – to secure a positive outcome.

However, this is perhaps where the cookie crumbles.

It is easier to hold an ideal and over-optimistic expectation of an agency or consultant coming in to ‘save’ or ‘fix’ the situation, then they are realistically able to do so.

The inhouse communicator essentially does a different role to the agency or consultant.

Compounding this challenge in the partnership is the fact that both sides do not often understand each other’s role and scope in the relationship.

Communicators working within an organisation are expected to be specialists and must keep to as high a success rate as possible. There are stakeholder relationships and outcomes riding on them, if undelivered, will impact other functions and teams along the project timeline. While the inhouse team works on programmes and projects, these often overlap on delivery timeline, use of resources, and involve many of the same stakeholders. There is no ‘end’ to look forward to, as many of the projects are cyclical and long-term.

Consultants (or agency teams, or contractors) work with (and within) a mindset that places them in a project. The project – ideally – should be clear on what it is about, the outcomes required, be timebound, and have a clear off-ramp. Upon delivery of the project and outcomes, the consultant team will look for the next brief and start the project cycle again.

Given the differences in perspective, is it any wonder that the inhouse communicator and their agency/consultant are often frustrated when it comes to seeking to understand each other?


Why can’t we be friends?

It’s possible to have a harmonious relationship with your agency or consultancy team.

There are various benefits of working with agencies and consultants such as tapping on a knowledge base and capabilities previously inaccessible by the brand, gaining external and neutral perspectives on the brand’s assets, channels and messaging as well as additional talent to add on to programmes and campaigns and support with implementation or execution.

However, both parties must find a way, and grow the partnership together into a position of mutual benefit.

Deal with things that you can control; ignore the rest.

When you engage an agency or consultants, it’s often to address skill gaps, enhance competencies, or seek guidance for your leadership and management.

By bringing in specialised knowledge, fresh perspectives, and external insights, these professionals have the potential to drive significant improvements and propel your organisation forward.

While there are numerous external factors beyond your control – such as time constraints, existing relationships, or historical challenges – you hold the power to shape the environment for both your team and the hired agency/consultant.

By proactively setting up the conditions for success, you can initiate and continue the process on a positive note. The responsibility to set the stage for success falls in your hands as a communicator. By fostering a culture of collaboration, trust, and mutual respect, you can lay the foundation for effective teamwork and shared objectives.

This positive momentum will pave the way for a strong working relationship between your team and agency/consultant, providing you with a distinct advantage right from the outset.

Recognise that successful partnerships require time to mature and evolve. Investing in relationship-building can pay off significantly, as a harmonious working relationship enhances productivity, efficiency, and overall project outcomes.

Sidebar: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

This is a proverb that reflects the concept of forming alliances based on mutual opposition to a common adversary.

Its origins can be traced back to various ancient civilizations, including India, where it was part of the Arthashastra, an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft and military strategy, attributed to Chanakya.

The proverb has since been referenced and adapted in different contexts throughout history, serving as a guiding principle for diplomatic, political, and military decisions.

Essentially, it suggests that when two parties share a common enemy, they might join forces to overcome the mutual threat, despite potential differences or conflicts that exist between them.

In the world of communications and PR, our ’enemies’ are not our industry competitors but instead, the process of reaching out and capturing attention on a consistent basis.

By teaming up with an agency or consultant, inhouse communicators can guide and shape the outcomes they need to achieve success for their brand and organisation. This aligns with the purpose of many agencies and consultants, which is to provide the best solutions and outcomes for their clients.


Here are 5 ways to select working with the best agency, consultant or contractor for you and your team.

Selecting the right agency or consultant can be a critical decision that significantly impacts the success of your communications or PR programme or project.

The right external partner – working with your inhouse team – can provide valuable insights, innovative solutions, and a fresh perspective to propel your business forward.

Here are 5 ways to select working with the best partner from our playbook.

Understand your needs and objectives:

Seek recommendations and referrals:

Evaluate expertise and experience:

Consider cultural fit and collaboration:

Review proposals and pricing structure:

Selecting the right consultant requires careful consideration and an informed decision-making process.

Remember that the best consultant for your business may not be the most renowned or expensive one, but the one whose skills, experience, and values align seamlessly with your objectives.

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.

Here are 3 ways I can help communications, marketing and PR practitioners:

Set up a meeting with me with me if you are looking for to deliver growth outcomes for your organisation, brand/s and team/s: 

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