My partner and I pick up two kinds of work - direct to us and via agencies/consultancies. and somehow, the stuff we win directly has always turned out to be more successful.
It seems that the work that comes through third parties almost always has something hidden or strings attached. It doesn't necessarily make the work less satisfying, but over the past few years I'm probably into double figures on projects where I've had one scenario described to me only to find something different when I've met the client face-to-face.
I've recently picked up a contact with a financial services business via a third party. Ostensibly the project is to kick-start their vision and values communications. But a week in, it's clear that their V&V doesn't actually square with their culture and that more comms would be no more useful than polishing a turd.
It's likely - if they're brave enough - that we could be in on the ground floor of a very significant change programme. I think the client has known this all along, yet still went out to an agency to find a person or small business willing to support a comms need that's not really there - yet.
Effective communication isn't a panacea and some of the work specifiers and agencies are mixing comms with change when looking for solutions. I'm very happy to unpick the differences, but it too often leads frustrating false starts for both sides.