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Secrets To A Strong Agency-Client Relationship With Shauna MacDonald [Interview]

Originally posted on PR In Canada’s Marketplace.

Any company can get lucky once and win new business, but it takes something special to retain a client base for over a decade. PR In Canada recently took a moment to catch up with Shauna MacDonald, Principal and Founder, Brookline Public Relation who’s agency is raising the bar when it comes to their ability to retain clients.
PR In Canada – According to the PR In Canada Marketplace, Brookline Public Relations has a Client Loyalty Score (CLS) rating of 77%*. Why do you think your agency has been so successful at retaining clients?
Shauna Macdonald Brookline Public RelationsShauna – At Brookline, we take great pride in staying on trend as the industry evolves. This ensures we maintain our leadership position through our offerings and providing our clients with outstanding results. We are always looking for ways to showcase and expand on our four pillars to stay fresh, creative, solid and professional. For example, over the past few years we have developed strategic relationships with many key influencers, throughout the country, which has elevated our ability to gain coverage for our clients beyond the traditional media landscape.

Stellar client relations and our constant ability to produce outstanding results also play a very important role in Brookline’s ability to retain clients. We are always proactive in our approach to obtaining feedback from our clients so that we are continuously aware of their stance on our services and are always looking for ways to continually improve. Acquiring this information allows us to reflect on our past offerings and grow our relationship with the client by presenting them with new opportunities for our agency to create even more value for their business.

PR In Canada – Many brands have been very public about saying that they are moving away from the AOR model. Why do you think that is?
Shauna – In some cases, brands may shy away from an Agency of Record agreement because it is a long term commitment which they are obligated to maintain for the duration of the year. This may cause brands to feel they have less control over the quality of the work they are receiving because of the relationship’s length and terms.

The ability for brands to be less non-committal also ensures agencies need to stay fresh and focused, and cannot allow their relationships with clients to grow stale or complacent – they can easily be replaced!

PR In Canada – Any suggestions on how agencies can keep the Agency of Record (AOR) relationship in tact?
Shauna – To help brands remain optimistic and confident about the benefits of entering into an AOR relationship with their public relations firm, it is imperative that the agency showcases its value throughout the duration of the relationship and not just upon renewal.

At Brookline, we build personal relationships with our clients and as a non-billable agency, we are able to guarantee that our clients have access to every level of the team at any time. By building relationships that extend beyond the initial handshake, Brookline and all other agencies can ensure they are providing their clients with fresh and creative solutions that consistently meet or exceed expectations. When agencies continually showcase the value of their services throughout the duration of the AOR contract period, the client is already very aware of the value of renewing the relationship.

PR In Canada – What are 3 ways the public relations industry has changed over the last 5 years?

  1. The most obvious change to the industry has been the impact of social media and digital technology on agency offerings. We have moved into a space where it is equally as important to garner engagement through social channels as it is through traditional media sources. Additionally, it has become increasingly important to showcase the client’s return on investment with regard to social media outreach. This means that agencies need to remain current by integrating digital strategies and, subsequently, analytics into their offerings.
  2. The growth of the digital landscape has also changed the industry as traditional media fares against the impact of the economic downturn. The traditional landscape has changed a lot in the last five years and as newsrooms become more condensed, agencies need to shift their media relations strategies to remain current. Part of this shift includes placing a greater precedence upon interacting and building relationships with bloggers and social media influencers to gain coverage in those realms to compliment traditional media coverage.
  3. Finally, the distinct line which used to be drawn between public relations and marketing has changed where it first became blurred and is now almost non-existent. This change is partially due to the fact that public relations and marketing departments/firms are starting to integrate their services, with marketing firms hiring internal public relations practitioners and vice versa. This showcases that moving forward, it is becoming increasingly important that public relations and marketing agencies work together to provide outstanding results for their clients.

* Client Loyalty Score (CLS) – PR In Canada’s score system measuring an agency/ vendor’s ability ability to maintain long term relationship with clients

People mentioned in this article:
Shauna MacDonald

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