Initial meeting

Naturally, if we haven’t worked together previously, the first step is to introduce ourselves and get acquainted.

Every client’s situation is unique, as are the audiences with whom they communicate. We tailor our approach and customize the solutions we propose to match each client's needs, goals, culture, and circumstances. We bring open minds into the initial meeting and leave any preconceptions outside.

Sometimes clients have a clear idea of their objectives. We like to discuss these in detail, to ensure that they’re stated unequivocally. It’s sometimes useful at this point to tease out any unstated, parallel or subsidiary goals. We might ‘play the devil’s advocate’. We’re sometimes just presented with a communications problem and asked to suggest the most appropriate and effective solution. At other times the client not only has clear objectives but also well-developed ideas as to how they should be achieved.

However the story begins, the client knows that he or she will be a central character, and that there’s going to be some stimulating dialogue.

As all good editors and journalists know, a good story begins with solid research. Our research begins with the client, and usually continues with their business, target audiences and the competitive landscape.

The briefing document

Although the client briefed us in the initial stage, we produce a document describing the assignment, restating and prioritizing the key objectives, the approach and any amendments we’d agreed at our first meeting. If the goals hadn’t yet been measurable, we ensure they are now.

Depending on the nature of the project, the briefing document may contain sections on house style, target audience, positioning, competition, format guidelines, optional alternatives, budgets, proposed contributors and partners, deadlines, and so on.

Depending on the size of the project, the briefing document may be accompanied by a work plan with timelines and budget, and this may offer a number of alternative scenarios. Review, revision and approval cycles are built-in.

The agreement

The client is presented with the reformulated briefing and proposed work plan. We review these together and discuss any further amendments. Any third-party contributors and partners are brought in at the beginning to ensure that they have an equal understanding of the brief and the client’s needs. Once we have achieved complete agreement on the strategy, budget and anticipated results, we get down to business in earnest.

Work in Progress

We don’t just let our clients tell us what they need and then call them when it’s done. Ironically, many ‘communications consultancies’ fail to communicate effectively with their clients and partners. We believe in open communication and in using our skills in the process as well as the product. Our clients have learned that the best results are achieved by being actively involved in their project from concept to implementation. They’re sure they’re getting what they want and there are no surprises.

By working with our clients rather than for them, we’ve learned that they become satisfied partners. Of course, the size and nature of the assignment will dictate the degree and nature of their active involvement.

During the creative development process, our online extranet is used by clients to comment on, revise and correct work in progress and by any outside contributors to submit their work for approval and inclusion in the finished product.

Last but not least, an essential ingredient throughout is that everyone has fun.

A dedicated project manager constantly monitors the process to ensure that we adhere to the briefing, budgets and deadlines.

The results

Because we’re driven by results and customer satisfaction, our work never ends with the delivery of the finished product. We follow up on the assignment to track and measure its ultimate success against the criteria we agreed in the briefing document.

Then we share our evaluation, ideas for enhancements and future projects with the client over lunch.

Our Approach

Previous page:

1. What we do

2. How we do it

3. The client is always central

This page:

4. Initial meeting

5. The briefing document

6. The agreement

7. Work in progress

8. The results

© Oake Communications 2003