By Shannon Stull
As we discussed in Part 1 of this article a couple of weeks ago, the agency/client relationship is a touchy issue. The reality of the situation is that in-house designers can see agencies as a threat (and an insult, if we're being completely honest), and agencies can see in-house teams as road blocks. Neither of these sentiments are actually necessary. There is no reason that both teams cannot become allies in the noble and epic mission to present creative that does not suck. You just need to remember a few things:
No Matter What A Pain Your Department Is, We've Seen Worse
I could wrap about ten city blocks with the amount of red tape I've encountered throughout the years. Most of us have had to deal with clients at one point or another with bureaucracy levels that rival yours. Do your best, keep us informed as you hear more, and we'll pick up your project when there's a green light. You don't have to apologize for the things that are out of your control. It's ok, I promise.
The Agency is Not Here to Cheat you out of Budget.
That being said, agencies earn their money through billable time. This is where that over communication also kicks in. If you can't communicate your organization's needs effectively, you could get stuck in an endless cycle of revisions that could lead to a very big bill. Make sure that your team is on task (including your leadership), and also make sure that expectations are set in stone.
You should have a clear scope of work, and a timeline that you will stick to. Your agency should produce this for you, but it's your team's responsibility to live up to the bargain too. I cannot tell you how many times I encountered a situation in my in-house life in which nit-picky, one-off changes piled up on our agency and resulted in a lot of wasted time and money.
As creatives yourselves, you know how important it is to connect with the people you work with. This doesn't change when you are two creatives on the other side of the fence. Get some face time. If you have the opportunity, ask your contact to join you for lunch some day and get to know them a bit. When it comes down to it, it's much easier to ignore an email from a faceless person on the internet, versus that amazing person you just had a drink with last Tuesday. Also, remember that the agency is always a potential employment source, should you find yourself leaving your in-house position some day. It's all about networking, baby!
Hopefully I had shed some light on a frustrating subject, and made it a little easier to deal with. What do you think? Are there any other issues I missed out on? Let's discuss.
Shannon Stull is a partner and Creative Director at WHOISCARRUS, a green-certified advertising agency based in Orlando, FL. She has worked in the field of advertising and marketing for more than eight years, with experience on both agency and in-house creative teams. More information about Shannon and her agency's services such as interactive design, green design, and mobile application design can be found at www.whoiscarrus.com.