Five Steps to Manage Client-Agency Relationships

September 25 2023

All relationships take effort, and that includes the one between client and communications agency. Considering that “communication” is the function, these relationships deserve a bit more time and effort! Setting things up correctly at the start is key. If both client and agency understand relationships, responsibilities and expectations, it’s usually smooth sailing. Here are five tips for creating a partnership that yields results with minimum drama.

client-agency relationship
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Know your plan

I’m not talking about the ponderous strategic plans of old that became unwieldy 50-slide powerpoints. I’m talking about a two-pager (google sheet, tracker, project management software, whatever) that itemizes activities in weeks, months, quarters. The goal is that no one from agency or client side ever has to wonder, “what’s going on this week/month/quarter.” This is a living document, so don’t forget to update prodigiously. 

Talk often

Here at Landis, we have weekly client meetings (zoom, phone) that last all of 30 minutes on a busy week. Attendance is mandatory and it’s the week’s opportunity to get clarification, adjust a plan in coordination with the client, brainstorm ideas, or itemize “gentle reminders” on due dates. It’s also a time to get to know each other! Most meetings open with chatter about news items, weekend activities, or impending vacations.

Don’t email to death

I hate instant messaging (there I said it – sorry Slack and Teams and whatever) but the functionality is priceless. Don’t email asking for the date for the next board meeting. Use the technology we all have access to. Nothing strains a relationship more than being a bother.

Set expectations and reiterate them

At the beginning of a project, clearly outline what the expected outcomes might be and how it will support the client business. Do not leave this vital information unsaid.

Ask, “how are we doing?”

Ask clients regularly how they think the team is performing and how you might improve. Don’t wait until something goes haywire.

Have a tip to add to my list? Email

Brianne Murphy Miller
Business Development Manager, Landis Communications Inc. (LCI)
Brianne Murphy Miller has spent close to 25 years in communications and marketing. As Senior Consultant and Business Development Manager at LCI, she is responsible for strategic counsel to a myriad of LCI clients, as well as overseeing all sales, marketing and business development needs for the agency. Prior to her work with LCI, Ms. Miller was VP Communications for TeeBeeDee, an online social network for baby boomers. The launch of that company was covered by media internationally and lauded as one of the hottest new tech start-ups of the year. Previously, she ran her own consultancy, B. & Company, for ten years, serving clients in the lifestyle, media, and tech industries. Ms. Miller also was Director of Public Relations for Kamer~Singer & Associates, a full service public relations and public affairs agency. There, she was responsible for the travel and hospitality division and new business. Her first foray into consumer technology was as Vice President of Marketing for, which developed push technology software. She joined after more than five years as Communications Director at Sunset Publishing Corporation. In that capacity, Ms. Miller was in charge of all public relations programs for the largest publishing company in the Western United States. She also helped launch their new media division, consumer expo programs and oversaw all trade show publicity efforts. Before migrating West, Ms. Miller worked in her native New York City for fashion designer Adrienne Vittadini and at GLAMOUR Magazine. She started her career at advertising agency Wells, Rich, Greene Inc., where she was part of the team that began the resurgent popularity of the Senior PGA Tour with client Liberty Mutual Insurance. Ms. Miller is a graduate of Fairfield University and holds a B.A. in English and Communications. She is a former board member of the San Francisco Public Relations Roundtable, has been guest lecturer at University of California Berkeley, and is involved in numerous local charities.

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