Let’s face it. Sometimes we encounter a difficult client with enlarged expectations of what is possible. Perhaps they’ve been tainted by false promises from a previous PR agency. Perhaps they are putting every thing (and every cent) they have into their brand, and just don’t know how to relax and let you do your job. As their publicist, you need to be able to anticipate what your client wants and needs. Often times, your success is not solely measured by PR deliverables; half the value of PR is the strength of the client-publicist relationship.
Here are a few tips to keep your clients happy:
Have ESPN. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the “Mean Girls” reference there. But seriously, you need to have ESP, so that you can answer their questions before they’re asked. Following an important meeting or editorial desk side, immediately shoot your client an e-mail or text to let them know how it went. Use “Google Alerts” to track new coverage “as-it-happens” and be the first person to get your client a link to new press as soon as it hits. If there is a correction that needs making, let them know you’re already on top of it. In general, communicate often so that your client begins to understand that they are always top-of-mind and that you are constantly hustling on their behalf. You don’t have to wait until the next formal report to outline your successes; share your wins as they happen, which brings me to my next point…
Recap Results Often. If your client displays a need to be overly in the loop, consider increasing the frequency of your reporting. If you normally report monthly, that might mean bi-weekly or weekly. Although it might sound time consuming, it will save you time on incoming “check-up” calls to reassure them that the campaign is on the right track, and in the long-run, it will keep your client on board. In addition, be sure to quantify your value; don’t just assume that they know.
Be Solution-Oriented. Clients love to be a part of the brainstorm, especially clients who are already creative by nature (like a designer for example). Some clients will e-mail daily with new ideas, and although these ideas are not part of your well thought-out plan, it’s important to embrace them. Check yourself: if you’re poo-pooing your clients’ ideas often, consider a new approach. No one wants to get a list of reasons why an idea won’t work. Instead, find a way to take the idea to the next level, and respond with an idea that WILL work.
Follow Through. If a client mentions grandiose ideas or goals that aren’t the immediate focus, make note of them, mark them in your calendar, and when there’s time, follow-up on those ideas they may have long since forgotten. If they liked the idea once, they’ll like it again, and they’ll be so impressed that you remembered. Maybe they mention an award they’d love to get nominated for next year. Find the deadline for nominations now, mark it in your calendar, and follow through with the application when it’s time. Letting them know that you never drop a ball and that you still want to achieve long-term goals will enhance their trust. One compliment we hear consistently from our clients at AMP3 is a thank you for making sure certain ideas actually come to fruition. Assuring your client you are someone who will get things done makes you the type of person they will want to keep on their team.
Be Flexible. If something isn’t working—and maybe it was something that was your not-so-brilliant idea—be honest, and re-assess the situation quickly so that you can change direction and find something that will move the needle. It’s good to measure what’s actually driving results and sales. Plan to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Hey, it was a good idea, but we can’t win ‘em all!
Sleep On It. If a heated scenario ever gives you the urge to reply based on emotion, don’t. Walk away, take a deep breath, and if need be (and time allows), sleep on it until the next morning. After all, there’s a chance you read the situation wrong, or that it will sort itself out. If you respond to criticism in attack mode, it will get you nowhere. Instead, find a way to combat the situation, and where possible, kill them with kindness. We’re all on the same team, and everyone wants the campaign to be successful, so find a way to get yourself on the same page with your client before reacting in a way you might regret.
Put your money where your mouth is. If previous false promises have tainted the client, make “reliability” one of the first words your client would use to describe you. It should go without saying that in PR, you should ALWAYS under-promise and over-deliver. It is impossible to guarantee results in PR, so focus on building a reputation as someone who delivers exactly what they say they will. The entire goal for your client is to pass off the PR/Marketing responsibilities to you so that he or she can focus on other aspects of the business. Never make them chase you or follow-up to see if something’s been handled.
If you focus on client retention as much as your focus on PR results, this will add incredible value to the service you provide.
About Alyson Roy:
Alyson Roy is a Guest Contributing Editor for The PR Closet, and the Co-Founder of AMP3 Public Relations, a boutique publicity agency that specializes in Lifestyle & Fashion PR campaigns. Follow Alyson at @AlyAMP3 or www.AMP3pr.com.