By Mason Burnham
The old adage that it is easier to build your business with existing customers than to find new ones holds true in public relations as well. Winning a new client or account is always exciting, but to be successful you need to provide superior customer service to clients.
The first step is to establish a good client relationship by listening to your client and understanding what they want from their public relations campaign. Honesty, creative ideas, and a good attitude are all important. Regular communication and feedback are key to helping the client understand how different constituencies (e.g. media, analysts, partners, etc.) perceive the company and its products or services.
In my experience, clients want their PR agency to feel like part of their in-house team. An agency should be responsive, results driven, and easy to work with, and it should have good contacts and strong communication skills. A client is looking for an agency that is proactive, energetic and driven.
It is crucial that agencies under-promise and over-deliver. It is easy to get carried away when you are brainstorming with a client, but PR agencies are paid for their counsel and need to find creative ways to deliver results that will achieve clients’ goals. We all have stories of clients who told us they wanted to be on Oprah, but didn’t even have a consumer-focused product or service. Work with your clients to develop a PR plan that will effectively deliver their messages rather than chasing after unrealistic placements.
Finally, be a good communicator. That sounds simple, but many PR account executives do not effectively communicate with their clients. It is important to be honest with clients, even if you have to tell them that you disagree with a particular tactic or feel they are missing an opportunity or ignoring a potential threat.
It is a recipe for disaster if the client instigates all communication. Make sure that you speak to clients regularly, sharing any feedback and ideas for how to achieve their goals. And obviously, make sure that clients see the results of your work by sharing all coverage as soon as possible.
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