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Course Correction: Get the Best Out of Your Agency Partnership

We’ve all been there. Plans change, unexpected challenges appear, team communication breaks down, and suddenly it feels like a project has gone off the rails. This is especially true in the world of event management. No matter how much preparation you put in on the front end, there will always be a moment when things just don’t seem to be going according to plan.

When this happens, it’s more important than ever to have a strong working relationship with your agency partner, particularly when there’s a conflict to get through. So how do you manage and resolve tension in the moment? Or build a foundation that makes these left turns less likely to happen?

Previously, we’ve outlined the ways an organization can lay a strong foundation with its agency partner. Today, we’re going to dig a little deeper and explore not only how you can keep your partner and project on track, and how to course correct when needed.

It’s All About People

The mark of a great team, and a great collaboration between you and your agency, isn’t avoiding every obstacle. It’s course correcting quickly and effectively when those obstacles arise.

Event production never proceeds on autopilot. Whether things are going well, or you’re navigating unanticipated hurdles, you rely on your staff and agency team to both implement the overall strategy and identify when and where there are opportunities to improve and adjust. A strong team is always going to be a people-focused one, especially when plans go awry.

Over time, we’ve honed a few strategies that not only strengthen team collaboration but encourage resiliency and adaptability—two traits critical to effective course correction, whatever comes our way.


Collaboration: Employ state-of-the-art collaboration tools to manage workflow and communication.

You can hire the best team in the world, but if people lack the tools they need to coordinate effectively with one another, the outcome will still be sub-par. Set clear communications expectations from the outset—from a regular cadence of meetings to guidance on what type of information needs to be shared when and with whom—and then empower your team with the tools they need to track and execute their project plan. These include:

  • Project management tools
  • Cloud or server-based platforms for document collaboration
  • Virtual meeting software
  • Chat software

Digital collaboration tools

Tools like these help centralize data and make it easier to ensure everyone involved has access to information that is up-to-date and complete. It also allows quick access to one another when questions arise. This enables you and your agency team to effectively track progress and identify potential issues sooner rather than later, which prevents both major challenges and significant conflict from arising in the first place.


Connection: Make face time an integral part of your team rituals.

While a quick phone call or email is great on the run, and maybe even in the day-to-day as a team focuses on execution and implementation, there is no replacement for face-to-face engagement for fostering connection, candor, and trust—all necessary during moments of conflict or challenge.

Institute regular 1:1 and group meetings that require face time, whether in person or virtual, and make space for people to ask questions, raise concerns, or propose strategies they might otherwise never share. Stay attuned to the nuances of expression and interaction that can help you understand not only how a project is moving forward, but how your team is feeling about it. Use these opportunities to build understanding and trust with your agency partner when things are going well, so that you both have the rapport needed to navigate sensitive and difficult issues if they develop.

Make time for face to face interactions

Candor: Address the elephant in the room, while you’re in the room.

When things do go wrong, don’t let the issue fester or go unspoken. When sensing discord in a situation or project, run toward the problem rather than away. Leverage the trust you’ve developed through intentional communication and collaboration to address issues compassionately and directly in a candid conversation.

Whether the issue is internal or external, related to the team itself or obstacles and logistics that are out of their hands, naming a problem empowers a group to solve the problem. After you’ve worked through the issue, learn from it, and move forward stronger than you were before.

Chemistry: Ask for a change in team members when the chemistry or performance isn’t working.

When working with an agency partner, don’t be afraid to ask for additional support or a change in personnel. While things may not be running as smoothly as you’d like, you may be one adjustment away from a team that clicks with you and your staff.

Zero in on the limitations you’re feeling and share them with your agency partner. Maybe you’re looking for someone who brings a different set of expertise to the table or a different communication style. These conversations may feel awkward or uncomfortable, but when you’re clear about the pain points you’re experiencing and what you think would help resolve them, they can also be constructive.

Celebration: Make recognition more than a perfunctory email at the end of a project.

Course correction isn’t always about recognizing what’s going wrong. Sometimes it’s about recognizing what’s going right! Positive feedback not only encourages engagement and connection, but helps your team understand the kind of performance, outcomes, and behaviors you’re looking for.

When things are going well, let people know so they know what “going well” looks like. And when things have been rough but are now back on track, make sure your team knows their work has been both effective and appreciated.

No honest, effective relationship is without conflict or challenge. A trusted agency partner knows this and is ready and willing to address issues quickly and candidly when they occur. By thinking proactively about the way you communicate and collaborate, you can help identify potential issues before they become significant problems and resolve conflict when it arises.

At August Jackson, we believe that developing powerful brand engagement begins with mutual understanding and strong partnerships. We value the relationships we have with our clients and, together, aim to develop activations and communities built from the same foundation. 

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