The why and when of a good communications agency audit
Working with PR and marketing agencies can sometimes feel like a leap of faith. You pay your monthly retainer, have a regular meeting to check in on the results and a quarterly strategy session to check direction, but how do you really know if things are working as well as they could be? A communications audit could be the answer.
Why conduct a communications audit?
Knowing what a communications audit can deliver will help you decide if it’s right for you. Examine your own agency relationship with the following questions to determine whether you need an audit:
- Are you concerned about recent staff changes at the agency?
- Do you know how financially secure the agency is?
- Are you clear on how the agency spends your money?
- Are invoices clear and as expected?
- Is the agency proactive in coming up with new ideas?
- Do you feel you get enough attention from senior people at the agency?
- Does the agency conduct client reviews and ask you for your feedback?
- Do you feel the programme the agency is running is delivering what you want?
It’s easy to let things slide when you’re busy with your own priorities and managing an agency takes some effort from the client too, but a few moments to consider the relationship and service you’re getting could help you get things back on track very quickly.
If it looks as though your agency relationship could benefit from an audit, the next consideration is when.
When to conduct a communications audit?
There may be no perfect time, but you certainly wouldn’t want to conduct an audit in the first year or maybe even in the second year of an agency relationship. Relationships take time to establish and both parties need to get to know each other. On the hand, if you’ve been working with your agency for four years or more and the above questions have raised some concerns, now is the time to consider a communications audit.
Another time not to undertake an audit would be just after a re-pitch situation. If the agency has recently re-pitched and won the work, you should have already covered many of the points in an audit in your re-pitch due diligence.
Finally, don’t spring the audit on your agency with no notice and expect them to welcome your auditor with open arms. Communicate clearly the reasons why you’re undertaking the audit – it’s a best practice approach and is a useful check in for all parties – and ask for their support in the process. Listen to any concerns they have and discuss those with your auditor. A good auditor will be able to handle any sensitivities and ensure that your on-going relationship is enhanced by the audit process.