What Is a Communications Agency and Should You Hire One?
Last update: 30 May 2023 at 11:41 am
What is a communications agency, and do you need one for your business? The best way to know the answers to these questions is to understand how communications agencies work and what they can do for businesses.
For any communication strategy to be successful, there needs to be a well-organized system and fluid synergy among various departments of the company. This article hopes to provide you with a better understanding of how communication companies work to help your organization.
Let’s first determine the type of communication consulting firms that we’re going to discuss. Basically, there are two kinds of communication agencies. There are 360-degree agencies that touch on all aspects of communications. And then there are specialized agencies that focus on more specific areas. We will be dealing with the first kind.
What are the Functions of a Communication Consulting Agency?
Before we discuss the structure of a communication or PR agency, let’s first analyze the various functions that they must provide the clients. Basically, there are four functions that these PR firms serve.
- Creative Function – By this, the agency produces the writing as well as the creation of the message. The project’s graphic design is also included in what the agency does.
- Research Function – For this responsibility, PR companies research the target audiences’ behaviors. They do this so that they can carry out a marketing campaign that is well-adapted to the target market.
- Media Selection – Communication agencies also choose the best media for the client. The selection depends on the nature of the product, the target audience, and the budget.
- Customer Relations – Communication consulting firms provide links between the clients and the various departments of the company for easier communication and to provide convenience to the customers.
Demand for communications agencies has trended upwards over 2022 and 2023 (and you can read more about that in our state of PR report) – so if you’re looking to improve your communications strategy, you’re far from alone.
And if you’re not, perhaps you’re falling behind…
Why Outsource PR to a Communications Agency?
Are you still wondering if hiring a communications agency is better than keeping things in-house?
What is the Structure of a Communications Agency?
The first thing to note about the structure of a PR agency is that it depends on its size and type. Generally, these agencies follow a structure that relies on the different trades and functions of the company. This will become much clearer as we get into more details.
So, when it comes to the agency’s structure, it can be divided into two: the strategic side, and the creative or technical side. The strategic part of the agency is where the sales manager leads. It is also the department of the company which interacts with the clients.
As for the creative side, it is where the art director leads. While these two parts of a PR agency are distinct, it doesn’t mean that they are strictly separated from each other. They are actually in constant interaction with one another in order to better serve their clients.
Understanding the Strategic Side
For this part of the communications agency, it represents the side that is directed toward the advertisers or the project leaders. Their responsibility is to design the marketing communication strategy of the project. The strategy is developed and implemented by the following:
Commercial and Customer Manager
This individual is the strategic supervisor of this particular department. Some of the responsibilities that are being handled include managing customer files, taking care of prospecting, as well as maintaining customer relations.
Apart from that, the commercial and customer manager also works hand in hand with the advertising manager of numerous projects. This role is in charge of making sure that the development and implementation of the strategies are within budget. When everything has been set, the manager then forwards the project to the creative side of the agency.
The advertising manager is the center of the communications agency. For this role, collaboration with the commercial manager is important. They create the commercial plan as well as develop the strategies.
This way, the communication campaign that the agency creates will be unique and effective for the customers. Another responsibility of the advertising manager is the management of the sales of the projects to the selected media.
The role of the media planners is vital to the PR company, and they are considered to be major assets to the agency. This is because media planners have specific knowledge when it comes to public relations.
These individuals know press agents as well as their respective audiences. When they have determined the target audience of the client, then they can choose the best type of media for the communication or advertising campaign.
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Understanding the Creative Side
The creative side of an ad agency is the one responsible for running the campaign. The people involved in the creative aspect of a communication strategy will rely on the plans that the strategic side has defined. Here are the important roles in the creative side of an agency:
The artistic director works to make the strategy happen so that it can be implemented. This individual designs the campaign and also takes care of the visual aspects of it. The director has a team of artists and graphic designers who work together to provide the visual representations needed for the campaign.
For the creative phase of a communication campaign, the production manager has a crucial role. This individual looks into the feasibility of the proposed ideas for the campaign. When it has been approved by the client, then the production manager can move forward and carry out the campaign.
This role requires a true wordsmith who can write the content and messages for the communication campaign. The writer also needs to adapt the content to the various media where it will appear.
The writer will rely on all the information about the project strategy that he or she received. It includes pieces of information about the target audience, theme, tone, and other important details for the campaign.
The challenge for this role is to find the most appropriate words to convey the message of the client to the target audience. It’s crucial that the audiences will find the message relatable, memorable, and interesting.
Artists and Graphic Designers
The individuals assigned to these roles are responsible for the creation of all forms of advertising models. Depending on what the client requires and the direction of the campaign, the artists and graphic designers can propose a graphic charter with illustrations. They will then present it to the client for approval.
For smaller agencies, these roles can be combined, and individuals may wear different hats to fulfil various responsibilities. Also, the communications agency can hire freelancers to work on the project.
For bigger PR agencies, the structure can be a lot more developed, and there may be other roles apart from the ones featured here. The roles mentioned above are the ones directly involved in the client’s project. There are also management roles that are necessary so that the communications agency can function properly.
The Dynamics Between the Agency and the Client
How do the client and the PR firm usually interact with one another? When the client entrusts a project to the agency, how does it actually go?
What usually happens is that the client contacts the ads agency to talk about their needs for their business. This discussion is led by the strategic or commercial part of the agency. As we’ve discussed before, this side of the agency is the one that communicates with the clients.
After that, the creative side of the agency will take over so that the project idea can be developed. It will all depend on the request of the client. When the project idea is ready, it will then be presented to the client.
The client can then suggest changes or give their approval for it. The ad agency will then start to work on making the project idea into reality. Throughout the whole process of the communication and marketing campaign, monitoring will be carried out constantly. This is to ensure that everything is in accordance with the specifications of the client.
While clients are only mostly in contact with the strategic or commercial side of the PR company, there is a good number of teams from different departments that work together so that the needs of the client will be met consistently.
One side handles the client communication and the other works to develop whatever it is that the client needs for the ad campaign. The client can confidently relax, knowing that the communication lines between these two sides of a PR agency are reliable and effective.
Now that we know the way that a communications agency works, we can better appreciate how a communication campaign is carried out. There are many important roles involved to ensure that every detail is to the client’s liking.
If you are considering hiring a communications agency for your campaign, you can confidently collaborate with them because you know how it works. Public relations agencies are expert professionals who can help you carry out your marketing or advertising campaign.
Rather than doing everything from scratch, you can tap these PR firms, tell them what you need, and they will take things from there. For as long as the client and the agency have good and open communication, it will be an exciting collaboration!