When Relationships Reign Supreme, the Most Important One is with Your Client
By Chance Shay
One of the first things you’ll learn in this industry is that PR is all about relationships. Successful agencies have strong relationships with journalists covering beats relevant to their clients and with industry influencers who can open doors. The best PR pros also have relationships with leaders at complementary organizations for collaborations that amplify their results. In PR, it really is all about relationships, but the most important relationship to nurture and grow is the one you have with your clients. Luckily, there are easy ways to make sure clients feel the love and remember your name the next time their friend’s company is asking where to find good PR help.
First, don’t send follow up emails. We’re all guilty of the “just following up” notes. Some appreciate the friendly reminder that something is outstanding on their to-do list and it shows the agency’s ownership of a task. But does it really? Owning a task means you’re seeing it through and making sure you’ve done everything possible to achieve the objectives. Ask yourself, “Does sending a follow up note help me achieve the goals of the project?” Your note might remind them that they need to take action, but what you’re really looking for is the result from their action. Instead of just following up, help them take action. If you just need the client to make a decision, provide new insights or perspective to move the process along. If more is needed, for example, when the client owes you a bylined article, take the first stab so they have something to respond to. Even if you missed the mark, it could help them visualize what they want to the piece to look like and they’ll appreciate you getting it started. Which leads to the next point…
Make sure you’re making your clients’ lives easier. Looking at the big picture, a PR agency’s role in business is to help the client make more money. By publicizing them, we provide additional opportunities to do what they are already doing — whether providing more of their service, selling more products or making a larger impact for their cause. Everything we do as PR professionals boils down to whether or not it made it easier for our clients to make more money. Companies hire PR pros because they aren’t experts in communication, we are. Often they’re indecisive because they don’t understand the nuances that separate a good campaign from a great campaign. Make their life easier by helping them feel informed and empowered. A bonus outcome is that they’ll appreciate you for the campaign strategy and results even more.
One of the easiest ways to support a strong client relationship is to provide agendas at all meetings. Whether it’s a quick FaceTime chat on a new tactic or a strategic brainstorm with all the decision makers, providing an agenda tells the client there’s a purpose for the meeting. It’s subtle, but helps reinforce agency value. Agendas remind clients why they are spending 60 minutes meeting with you instead of doing something else. Clients appreciate when you value their time and in return, will value yours as well.
Finally, make connections for clients. This is the most impactful tip as you could provide an additional bottom line benefit for their organization. When you’re networking, think about how each person you meet could benefit from connecting with your client, or vice versa. Your new contact might not be a prospective customer, but if it helps achieve the overall goal, your client will appreciate it. In addition to providing value, it also shows the client you’re thinking about them and their goals even when you’re off the clock.
As Maya Angelou famously said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Be intentional with how you make clients feel and when you foster that relationship, you’ll set yourself up for success.