Anyone who has watched the megahit Tarantino movie “Pulp Fiction” will remember the character Harvey Keitel plays in the movie – the enigmatic Winston Wolf. Winston is called in to clean up bad “situations”, has likely seen just about everything there is and can get things done efficiently and quickly. This character has been on my mind over the past few weeks based on discussions with colleagues who have stories about how agencies didn’t work out or unqualified consultants took a client for a long ride only to drop them off in on a deserted plain never to be seen again. Perhaps both client and service provider can learn from these stories, and more importantly learn to identify common issues as they arise and proactively solve for them.So how can consultants and clients break the cycle and move towards a positive outcome? Answer: Understand the rules of engagement and best practices for professional engagement. What should clients know about their agency or practitioner before starting a professional relationship? How can we, together, produce a positive outcome? Based on my experience, here are my three areas of advice…- Ask about agency/consultants strengths and you will also gain insight into weaknesses. It’s what they don’t say that will tell you what you need to know. More importantly, can you accept what they have to offer and what they lack? Acceptance is the key.- Get an understanding of background for the principal’s that will work with your business. Have they walked a mile in your shoes as a client? Finding someone who understands both agency and client-side perspectives can be invaluable (disclaimer: I’m biased).- Does your organization have the bandwidth to manage the relationship with a PR pro? We can’t go on autopilot and need to be involved in internal conversations (read: learn your business) to the extent that we can help develop a public voice and footprint for you. This means we can’t report to the CEO’s admin on a daily basis – we need to be aligned with an internal champion and professional who can speak our language. By determining how much time you can allocate, it will become clear as to whether or not an agency or a consultant makes sense.Perhaps these guidelines can get us to a place where Mr. Wolf turns to into Mr. Clean?