With PR clients, as with children, you aren’t supposed to have a favorite. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret – there are some simple steps you can take to quickly become one of your agency’s favorite clients. I’m not talking about increasing your spend or sending flowers (although I doubt any of us in the business would refuse either of those). It’s about trust, transparency and good old-fashioned communication.
When I stop and think about my favorite clients, they usually share a few common traits:
- They treat me as one of their own. Great clients realize that their PR partner should be an extension of their own team. One of the highest compliments I ever received from a client was her telling me “I sometimes forget you don’t work in our building – I feel like you’re right down the hall!” Remember that in order for the partnership to be successful, you need to keep me in the loop at all times – that could mean copying me on important announcements, inviting me to sit in on your ad agency’s creative presentation, telling me when there’s internal frustration about a certain issue or having me tour your new building before it opens so I know exactly what I’ll be pitching to the press.
- They help me streamline processes. Two of the most common pain points for PR practitioners? Having to wait forever for approvals on a document or plan, and having to delay or miss media opportunities because the client can’t find someone to do an interview. Help us speed up these processes – work to get approvals quickly and understand how important it is to be available when major media opportunities present themselves. Help us help you get the results you want!
- They give me access. We often find our best stories when we talk to those who aren’t regular participants in the marketing program – whether that’s an ER physician, an engineer or a salesperson. Understand the value in giving us the freedom to hold input calls and brainstorm sessions with folks in your company we may not work with regularly. Respect our process for mining stories.
- They give me advance notice. I love when a client says to me “I know its 6 months out, but we’re thinking of launching our new service next spring,” or “Next year, we’re really going to double down on X product.” I’d much rather have the time to develop a thoughtful, strategic campaign than have to slam something together on two weeks’ notice.
- They trust and respect me. The greatest client engagements I’ve had are the ones that are truly two-way partnerships, where the client doesn’t just assign me tasks, but stops and asks what I think or how I might approach a challenge differently. They value my experience and trust that I’ll offer smart and thoughtful counsel, or creative ideas they may not have considered.
- They are appreciative. It doesn’t seem like much, but a simple thank you can really make my day. When a client is genuinely appreciative of work I’ve done and sends a quick note or calls me to let me know, it truly makes me want to work harder for her/him. A little thanks can go a long way.