New year, new clients? Or maybe existing clients but not so from PR heaven?
The PR world is very stressful, and clients are easily one of the sources of frustration. This could be because they have unrealistic expectations, do not know exactly what PR is about and have no idea how to go about working with a PR partner, or are doing PR for the first time and are acting like a deer in the headlights.
What to do then?
*Set clear goals and get alignment on these — Your client needs to know your capabilities as an agency and their partner. Align on what needs to be achieved, how to meet these targets and when.
*Manage expectations on both sides — As you discuss what you are able to do, make sure it is also clear what the client needs to contribute to make things happen. Be as transparent as possible. But know their needs as best you can because those are the ones you need to address.
*Agree on the communication setup, processes and timelines — Try to set boundaries and space. For example, while you let your clients know you’re there for them, you also have to manage their expectations as to when you’re accessible to them.
*For clients new to PR or don’t know what PR is about, help them learn more about what PR can accomplish for them.
*Establish a task management system — This lets all parties stay updated on how things are moving — or not moving at all — and continue to plan ahead.
*Have regular update meetings — This is especially necessary for when there are events or milestones coming up. A reminder though: not all meetings are really necessary. Handle your team’s time well and respect your client’s time as well by managing meetings. Sometimes meetings take longer than necessary, taking teams away from what they need to do and so causing more delays instead of moving things faster along.
*Build trust — This takes time, but being straightforward, collaborative and credible will help. Putting yourself in the other party’s shoes and maintaining open and empathetic communication are also valuable. But don’t forget as well that delivering on quality commitments should be top priority at all times.
*Study your client’s industry — You can provide better PR consultancy about something you’re knowledgeable about. Learn more about the market your client is in. Understand their mission and vision, their products and services, what they really want to achieve. Know as well what potential roadblocks there are to achieving your client’s goals.
*Learn to communicate well — Keep track of progress and anticipate bottlenecks. Be open and discuss not just the successes but the challenges as well. Learn to negotiate and even to say no when necessary, but with valid reasons that your client will understand, especially if expectations have been set earlier.
*Measure success — Your partnership is all about helping your client meet their goals. So tracking progress and evaluating work done would be very crucial. Be truthful though when evaluating work done. If you’re not there yet, be forthright with it and offer solutions. If you’re ticking off all the boxes, pat your team on the back but don’t rest on the laurels just yet. A lot more needs to be done.