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public relations agencies and management consulting firms may find
themselves collaborating to represent a mutual client. When a company makes
a change to its communications representation, it is often precipitated by a
new management or business direction. During these times of change,
companies often bring in outside management consultants to provide a broader
perspective and help develop a strategy and plan to accomplish a fixed set
there are challenges when working in a team of two providers of professional
counsel such as management consultants and PR professionals. Ultimately,
success for each, and for the client, requires more than the ability to
"get along." There are things that public relations agencies and
management consulting firms can do before and during a cooperative
assignment to encourage success for all parties involved.
Communications Group recently found itself in that position when it worked
closely with the management consulting firm, R.M. Dudley Corporation (RMD).
The lessons we learned working with R.M. Dudley on a new product launch for
a software company were invaluable.
Dudley, founder and president of RMD recalls working with our joint client
to develop a "completely integrated closed-loop marketing
strategy." Dudley adds
that "we understood, from our previous work" that our client
"needed a 'rolling thunder' approach to developing awareness in the
market. Public relations was an integral part of the packaging, positioning,
promotion, lead generation and sales delivery strategy. And it began with a
request for a high volume of press briefings with leading industry and
technology journalists." Those
results were achieved as we launched the client's new strategy at an
important industry analyst summit in January, but more importantly, they
were achieved by collaborating on a comprehensive communications strategy.
are five tips that made the collaboration between RMD and Strategic so
is important that both parties bring something of value to the table to
start off. Often the party that has been on the job longer will do this
foundation work. It involves developing the strategy, gaining support from
the client's management team, and taking the lead on messaging, among other
this particular engagement, RMD was brought on to enhance business
development efforts surrounding the new product launch. RMD's closed-loop
marketing and business development process was designed to get the new
strategy and accompanying technologies in front of prospects most likely to
buy, as quickly as possible. This plan called for public relations
activities in very specific areas to support ultimate business goals.
RMD closed-loop strategy drives an internal [to the client] discipline for
developing an ideal customer profile, prior to partnering with a PR
agency," Dudley said. "This creates public relations-specific
components within overall marketing activities designed to attract ideal
development of a business and IT media communications strategy to support
the client's business goals resulted from the foundation laid by the
a consultant clash of the titans. PR agencies and management consulting
firms are used to being hired guns and having a certain sense of autonomy in
their work. An effective collaboration requires a conscious effort to
partner with another consultant - sharing ideas, credit, power, etc. This
may feel unnatural, and it requires a certain level of trust. However, if
everyone agrees to work toward the ultimate goal, rather than personal
glory, they will succeed on both fronts.
compromise on areas you think will hurt the overall effectiveness of the
engagement, but respect the value each side brings to the problem and listen
to one another's advice.
tip goes hand in hand with checking your ego. Recognize that, as
consultants, each of you has certain skills. Ask yourself, "How can I
best use their skills to help me make this project as successful as it can
possibly be?" If both parties do this, they open themselves up to best
leveraging knowledge and raising the total performance of the team.
this particular case, RMD was closely aligned with the client's board of
directors and had developed corporate messaging and programs with the
board's support. We brought relationships with analysts, media and other
influencers and an understanding of how those influencers perceive other
companies in our client's market space.
client engagements fail because of a lack of communication. In serving a
client in cooperation with another consultant, it often takes twice as much
communication to make the relationship successful.
regular conference calls, face-to-face meetings, etc. without client
involvement to hash out ideas, determine responsibilities and talk through
gray areas. This is also a good time to provide detailed updates on
accomplishments and review the strategy. Then when you connect again with
the client, they get a complete picture of the team's accomplishments and
ideas, and gain confidence in the program as a whole. This makes each
consultant's job easier.
consulting firms (PR, management, legal, accounting, etc.) are ultimately
judged by the specific value they provide to clients. The way to retain and
grow a client engagement is to demonstrate value to the highest levels and
make it clear no other consultant could provide similar value. This is
difficult to do when you have collaborated on a project with another
consultant, because no one can claim total responsibility for success. Don't
worry, there is plenty of success to go around. Make sure the client
understands the value you provided and the critical role you played in the
project's success, but acknowledge the work of others as well.
always takes more logistical work to function within a team. However, like
most teams, PR agencies and management consulting firms can often accomplish
more, faster and with greater success working together than they could
working independently. Each brings certain expertise and knowledge to a
particular problem and drives results that benefit each other and the
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