Communications departments are used to working with what they’ve got, even if what they’ve got isn’t nearly enough.
Usually, that means wearing different hats—lots of different hats. From writing a press release, to editing photos, to putting together events, comms staff are constantly busy getting their organization’s message out to the world.
Maybe it works in the short-term, or because that’s the way it’s always been.
But the truth is that working this way—doing 50 different tasks, running from project to project, and basically keeping things together—is neither sustainable nor efficient. In the long run, having a comms department that’s stretched thin will only put your brand at a disadvantage. ,
After all, the first things to go when people are overworked are time for strategy and time for reflection. And both these things are critical when it comes to making smart, creative choices for how to get your brand message out to the world.
So how do you solve this problem, if you can’t hire another full-time employee? One answer is to hire an outside agency, but then how do you know whether they’ll actually decrease your workload? Here are some things you should look for.
The right agency will learn your brand as well as your full-time employees.
When you start work with an outside comms vendor, one of the most critical things to ask them about is how they get to know your brand.
The last thing you want is to create more work for your department by having to walk your new partner through every aspect of your branding every time they complete a project. That’s not helping you—that’s babysitting.
Ask your potential partner the process they go through for learning your brand, and then ask for references. Former or current happy clients will likely be glad to share their experiences, and the agency should be quite willing to put you in touch.
Make sure they’re committed to evolving their understanding of your brand, just like your brand is sure to evolve over time. The people you work with should be ready to stay in the game long-term, getting to know you better as time goes on.
The right agency should be able to give you what you need, not just offer service packages.
A good commtech agency will be able to give you the services you actually need, as opposed to sell you on one-size-fits-all packages.
For example, maybe you need a temporary site for an event you’re putting on, plus a way to securely stream it to a select audience. Or maybe you need ongoing comms management with 24-hour turnaround time.
Experienced agencies know that every comms department is different. In fact, that’s how Wieck has evolved over the decades—our clients tell us what they need, and we’ve developed our offerings in response. That’s how we developed our SmartStories, microsites that can integrate any kind of content and have a four-hour turnaround time.
Likewise, after we saw the frequent need for personalized, custom services, we developed the Commtech Concierge, which lets us put together packages designed specifically based on the client’s needs.
The right agency will have a depth of experience.
In comms, it’s not enough to do just one thing, even if you do it better than anyone else.
You need people who can handle image distribution, web development, content management, event management—the whole shebang.
What’s more, you need people who are truly on the cutting edge of communications. With the way our industry is transforming—in many ways, already has transformed—it’s critical that any agency working in comms understand where the practice is today.
- Your audience has expanded from journalists and shareholders to include bloggers, social media influencers, and the general public.
- Content can’t be understood only in separate buckets anymore—i.e., that’s a press release, that’s an image gallery, that’s a video. Different types of content must be integrated to create a cohesive story about a brand.
- Digital newsrooms no longer cut it. Digital content hubs are how forward-thinking brands are communicating their messaging, both internally and externally.
Hiring additional people to fill out a comms department is often a non-starter. But by choosing the right agency—one that will commit to learning your brand like it’s their own, offer the services you actually need, and has staff with all the skills necessary to manage and distribute cutting-edge, 21st century content—you can add people to your team for a fraction of the cost.
Interested in learning more? Contact Wieck today.