Running an agency is like running a theatre production. Responsibility for the success of the backstage operations as well as the quality of the ‘show’ itself falls on leaders of public relations and communications agencies. So how do you go about managing a team of diverse professionals to run a ‘show’ that excites the audience, your clients, and makes money? Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
Know your best practice and make it happen: It’s no good setting standards if they get ignored, so motivate your teams to be the best and highlight those that excel so you can identify your stars.
Create a culture of togetherness but allow room for individual proactivity: Creative people are naturally individual so give them opportunities to shine. Having a suggestion box in your office is a good start or a volunteer rota for social media channels so different team members get to share their voice.
Be clear about agency expectations: Make sure your teams know and understand how the agency makes money and that it’s important we partner with clients that want us to make a fair profit.
Set your goals: Don’t assume your staff know where you’re headed, set aside time to explain what the company wants to achieve in both the short term and long term. Then you can gain realistic input on the steps needed to make this happen.
Enjoy a little chaos: Sometimes things don't go smoothly. It may not be a crisis but day-to-day issues are commonplace so learn to go with the flow and not to be scared of change.
Communicate: It might sound obvious but agencies are notorious for communicating well to clients but not always internally. Allow opportunities for sharing insight, knowledge and opinion between colleagues to keep a constant dialogue.
Love to learn: External and internal training is really important. By utilizing your own teams it’s a great way to showcase talent within the agency across different skillsets and it doesn’t cost a thing.
Have fun: Your teams need to have passion to be productive so make your brainstorming sessions fun and interactive, hold monthly creative competitions or just get out there as a team and enjoy something new.
Successful agency management is an art and much like the theatre it needs constant practice as every day is a new show. With this in mind it’s key to regularly evaluate your companies’ achievements in terms of product, staff performance, new business wins, as well as client results and satisfaction. Ask yourself “Are we doing enough to keep up with and get ahead of the rapid changes affecting communications?”
Nicola Oldfield is group managing director of GHC Asia and board member of the Council of Public Relations Firms of Hong Kong (CPRFHK).