A famous showbiz couple, who are nonetheless notoriously close-knit, responded to the customary question about what the secret of such a winning relationship is, in unison, thus: “To listen to your partner and discuss all the little problems”, continually seeking new avenues for enhancement and new ideas to nurture together.
Immediately, this statement resonates with the dynamics of a completely different relational sphere – that of business.
In fact, it expresses an attitude that, in the world of consultancy (and, therefore, communication) should apply to any professional partner relationship, to enable practitioner and client to work together successfully and for the long-term.
Clearly, this is hardly new thinking. But how do you actually apply the glib theory? Without doubt, a natural rapport is important, but above all what is necessary – from both sides – is openness to debate, a constructive mindset, lateral thought and the ability to become fully involved.
Going the extra mile
The client, for their part, must learn to look on the consultant as a true partner and not simply as a supplier or an executor. To get the most out of the overall value that the consultant can deliver, the client must keep the consultant in the loop regarding every newsworthy milestone: the launch of new products, training programmes, sales strategy and commercial partnership development, organisational change… in short, every aspect of company life.
The more information the consultant is given, the more likely it will be that they can tap into their skills to respond to needs that, in some instances, even the business itself has not yet identified, thus delivering approaches and services that add value beyond the original remit.
This is especially true for companies that are undergoing processes of growth and change, if not wholesale transformation, where it is likely that the communication needs are not only increasing, but also, of themselves, changing.
Here, the value added by a clued-up partner, who is able to quickly make sense of this evolution, proposing and managing new and coherent courses of action, is inestimable.
Bringing quality to the role
The consultant, meanwhile, must not make the mistake of limiting themself to passive execution of the agreed activities. Instead, they must consider the client holistically, interpreting their objectives in the broader context, and putting their own knowledge at the client’s disposal by proposing alternative solutions and useful deliverables to build a coordinated growth program.
In essence, the consultant must understand their role first and foremost as being that of a partner, not a supplier. Ultimately, this is also a way of increasing all-important client confidence and the value that the partnership delivers for both parties. At least, that’s our experience here at BMP!
And so it is that the knowledge and information acquired in the execution of a media relations programme can, say, be capitalised upon to conceive and manage an editorial project that meets the company’s need to communicate with its own internal audience.
Or that a one-shot production of a video testimonial becomes a starting point for a more beneficial and structured Customer Reference Program to support marketing and sales.
Or that media training destined for the CEO develops into a joined-up public speaking training programme to benefit other senior figures in the company. And who’s to say that a business partnership can’t one day be described with the same words used by that so famous couple?