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There’s always a lot of discussion surrounding PR agencies and their relationships with clients. Some place the pressure and blame all on the agency, yet any agency will probably flip it around the other way (I mean, it’s never us…right?).
Personally, I’m a fan of articles like the one I read in Businessweek last week because it requires both sides to question what they’re doing.
When it comes down to it, we do business with people we like and working with a PR firm is no different. Because your firm is going to need help from you or someone on your team every day to reach its program goals, it’s important you like the team.
That being said, I thought Valentine’s Day would be an appropriate time to talk about a few ways that PR agencies can rekindle client love.
Send Reports/Updates about Activity Before They Ask for Them
Measurement and results are key to any PR activity. It’s the bottom line that your client ultimately wants to know about. Although sharing the process of what you’re doing to achieve results is important, it doesn’t matter as much as the results themselves.
As a PR person, one of the most important questions you can ask yourself is, “What have I done for my client today?” So take the opportunity to show them before they have to come asking for status updates and coverage reports.
This might seem obvious, but it’s still important to stress this point. If the client throws something at you, at least acknowledge that you’re on top of the situation. You can always follow up with more detail later. But you need to let the client know you’re reachable, paying attention and ready to act on their requests.
Turn Work Around Before the Deadline
Ahh, deadlines. Regularly working with reporters means we are no stranger to deadlines. But it’s crucial to also set internal deadlines…and then exceed them. Why not give your client a happy surprise and take care of a task before you said you would? It shows your dedication, organization and overall diligence in the work you do. Never underestimate this.
Go Above and Beyond in EVERYTHING You Do
If you’re lazy, it will show. Sometimes going above and beyond means sending a handwritten thank you. Other times it means becoming an expert on a very random topic at 4p.m. on a Friday afternoon to ensure your client’s news gets covered before the reporter is past deadline.
Yes, it can sometimes be a pain to have to scramble around like this, but if you take the easy way out you risk ruining relationships with the media and/or losing coverage. When that occurs, do you know who’s going to be unhappy? Your client.
Treat them like a Friend, Not Just a Business Partner
I say this all the time, but this is a people business. Relationships are EVERYTHING, both with the media and your client(s). So don’t just treat everything as business. Be personable. Be friendly. I’m not saying you should be inappropriate, but there are times when you don’t need to be 100% formal.
Think of Gini’s point that I mentioned above—if the people you do business with truly like you as a person, you’re more likely to have a better working relationship. Things will run smoothly and collaboration will be higher. You can push back on a client while still holding their respect, and vice versa.
What do you think? What are some other ways that PR agencies and clients can rekindle or build upon their love this Valentine’s Day (and really every day of the year)?