Do you DIG? Independence can become a liability and dependence an irritation

Do you DIG? Independence can become a liability and dependence an irritation

Claire Walker

Claire Walker

Every now and then something floors me. Quite a few years ago now, ‘DIG’ was a one-word email reply from a client. And yes, it was in capital letters too for added emphasis.

Could it have meant appreciation? Could it have meant ‘I like it a lot’? How dangerous to assume. What it meant was ‘I haven’t got time to help you, please work it out yourselves’.

I was reminded of this moment when a prospect recently talked about her frustrations with her ‘soon-to-be ex’ agency and what promoted the change. She just didn’t have the time to explain something twice, and nor should she have to. She didn’t expect to train up new team members. But she did expect her agency to work out problems, and only go to her if they hit a dead end.

Reasonable, right?

So, what happened and why the lack of resourcefulness? It’s worth a quick look at the flip side.

There’s a narrow path between being too dependent and being too independent. The former is needy, the latter an unguided missile.  But the middle ground between working unchecked, unguided and not needing so much handholding is where agencies must strike the right balance.

Whether you’re reading this in-house side or agency-side, there are measures you can put in place to make sure you’re ‘digging’ right:

  • Set expectations: Be clear on how much and at what point you want your agency team to have input. Maybe you want your agency’s direction on comms strategy based on what they know, so you have a starting point, or you want them to look through background material you’ve already shared to come up with an angle for that news hijacking opportunity they just flagged
  • Set boundaries: Sometimes it makes sense to tell your agency to connect to your experts if they need extra information, so long as the right people are kept in the loop. Sometimes it’s better to go through comms first. It’s important to know the framework in which you expect proactivity and resourcefulness
  • Set-up collaboration tools: Use tools that makes it clear what PR materials are available to review, when/how they’ve been used and where to go for more information. Collaboration tools are even more powerful if you’re managing a network of PR agencies in various countries, as PR teams can share ideas and content
  • Re-set for the next round: When reviewing PR activity every quarter, identify instances where more resourcefulness and independent thinking would’ve avoided delays or missed opportunities. Address them head on

And even with all this in place, your agency must have the DIG mindset. Without it, it’s like giving them the shovel, pointing them in the right direction but useless if they don’t get on with it.

Is your team often asking themselves…Is there another way to get what I need? Who else could help me with this? Can I recall anything similar that might also help me? What is one more thing I can try before I ask for help?

Plus, when you do dig you never know what you can find. A curious and open-minded agency may find you some PR gold even though their initial intention was to problem-solve.

But please, be the right kind of gold digger!

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