Importance of Openness, Collaboration and Goals in Successful Agency/Client Relationships

By Kaylee Harrington

Stacia Doss is driven by her passion for writing, and she has been able to tap that throughout her extensive range of agency and in-house communications experiences, including her current job as Content Marketing Manager at McKesson and earlier positions —  Communications Consultant for Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Senior Coordinator of Marketing Communications for Rise Interactive, Alfred Fleishman Public Relations Diversity Fellow at FleishmanHillard and Media Relations Intern for the Memphis Grizzlies.

After her time in DePaul’s graduate program, Stacia was looking for a position that would allow her to take ownership of external storytelling, versus the traditional media relations work she had previously been doing that relied on others doing the storytelling for her clients. Her role at Rise Interactive allowed her to work on both client service efforts such as award submissions, and marketing and thought leadership efforts for the agency, ranging from social content creation, executive communications and employee engagement. She still felt she had the “true agency experience” – including wearing a lot of hats and not subscribing to a traditional 9-to-5 schedule – but was able to find a bit more work-life balance as she didn’t answer to an external client directly.

Stacia’s exposure at Rise to such a wide range of work helped her hone in on what she wanted to focus on in her next chapter: corporate communications at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma & Texas (BCBS). Here, her role consisted of her managing the employer-facing newsletter and research promotion and results reporting, allowing her the opportunity to expand her executive communications skills and work with colleagues across one of the biggest divisions at the entire company, including HR and sales.

Now, at McKesson, Stacia runs on a slim team. Partnering with her colleague in PR, they manage nearly all PR activities internally. When they receive a media inquiry or have a corporate announcement, the PR team will manage the pitching and Stacia handles the writing and partners on spokesperson media training. Stacia also manages any freelancers serving the team, who are often brought in for larger projects that need additional hands or specific expertise.

Stacia defines a successful Agency/Corporate Relationship as open and collaborative, stating:

“The clients that were the easiest to work with were those who were open and willing to be promoted, as far as different case studies and partnerships we wanted to amplify on their behalf… [We had] some clients who were very easy to work with, who understood the value of marketing and public relations, and spreading the word and amplifying the great work we were doing together. That makes a successful partnership: when you understand the importance of marketing and you’re willing to work with the agency on positioning your brand for further positive exposure.”

However, sometimes the responsibility falls on the agency to “make the pitch” and communicate the value of communications and marketing, educating the client on advertising value and how PR can valuably play into the larger marketing strategy, as leaders within organizations often don’t recognize the importance of these tactics.

Stacia tells students and young professionals she doesn’t have any regrets about starting her career within an agency, as it made her well-rounded. When you move to the corporate side, staff are more focused on one or two key areas, versus at an agency where employees are encouraged to diversify – a feature that Stacia encourages taking advantage of, while paying attention to what energizes you to come to work. When or if you choose to move in-house, she recommends looking for positions that focus on those things that excite you, but don’t forget to leverage the wide range of experience you’ve learned along the way.

Kaylee Harrington is an Account Supervisor at Red Havas Health and a second-year grad student in the Public Relations and Advertising program at DePaul University. When she’s not at work or in class, Kaylee enjoys cooking, trying new restaurants and riding her bike on Chicago’s lakefront.

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