In a relationship-based service business like public relations, it’s inevitable that agency-client relationships often become friendships. As PR agency professionals, being successful requires us to not only really understand our clients’ businesses, but our client contacts’ motivations, aspirations, challenges, etc. The best PR strategies take all of this into consideration.
Though everyone’s busy lives makes it tougher to schedule, a good agency-client relationship often involves cocktails, dinner and entertainment. It’s these occasions, as well as the day-to-day work and late nights managing crises, when the bonds of friendship are born.
One of my oldest friendships started as an agency-client relationship back in the mid-1990s. We did some outstanding, award-winning work together and really got to know each other. Over the past 18 years, we’ve watched each other’s careers and families grow. Though we haven’t done any work together in more than six years, we both know the possibility of doing so again may be just around the corner. It will happen when it’s time — and even if it doesn’t, that’s okay too.
Friends help each other – in many different ways. One thing that many clients often forget — we PR agency types often hear about job possibilities (and organizational restructurings) before they become public knowledge.
One of the most important qualities in friendship is loyalty. A good agency person is loyal to his client (and vice versa!).
Like any friendship, agency-client relationships will have their ups and downs. And there might be legitimate reasons for the commercial side of the relationship to come to a close. But, underlying it all, if there’s friendship, even the bumps in the road will be manageable. Because we like each other and respect each other.
And, if we really have affection for one another, great things can happen.