If not, that next call could be a bad one.
There’s the ubiquitous mantra “The customer is always right.” If you have spent any time in PR, you know this is not always the case. However, it doesn’t matter if you want to keep them happy — or is it?
Understanding the magic formula how to work well with clients and play in their sandbox is nowhere near scientific. It’s all about art of grace under fire, peace under stress, and results under (sometimes senseless) deadlines.
Therefore, we are proud to bring to you another 5 things: What to know to charm your clients. Enjoy.
1. Invest in them. The ticket with any relationship in public relations is through a retainer. Projects have end dates, which mean “end of relationship.” If you want to keep your clients, invest in them. What’s the problem with working more hours than what is found in the retainer? If you fancy nickel-and-diming, count the minutes and beg for the cash afterwards. However, when times are busy, invest. It goes against the grain, I know; however, when things are slow — and this will always happen — clients will resist the temptation to cut your agency in the lean months. Why? Because they heart you.
2. Respond to them. Things happen. I get it. You are busy in a meeting. You are at a new business lunch. Whatever you are doing, you are not doing it with that certain client. And that is when the client calls. It could be on a Sunday afternoon. If you aren’t doing anything, what harm does it do to answer the phone? The client gets a wild hair, strikes gold with an idea, and wants a sounding board. That’s you. So be the board. That is the extension of client service — understanding this is not a 9-to-5 gig we have chosen in PR. Understanding that means long-term love. Don’t, and that will mean short-term stoppage.
3. Be honest with them. PR is not free advertising. PR is not free. PR is not even easy. What’s wrong with telling a client that? If they have an idea, don’t immediately discard it like that one overweight, unhappy shrew in your office does during brainstorming meetings. Listen to the client and work with the idea. Stress the importance of having something newsworthy with that idea — consider it, bait on the hook. If you have stink bait, you are pulling up nothing but mud bugs. Put down some of that caviar looking bait and you are fishing for marlins.
4. Score quick hits for them. There is no better way to show off for a client than to get a quick story within the first 45 days of the relationship. In that amount of time, the client is still in the “buyer’s remorse” area. Did they do the right thing? Was that the right amount of money to spend on PR? And just what in the hell is PR anyway? Make a phone call to someone you know would be interested in what your client is shilling, secure a hit, and BOOM … people are loving you. You made miracles happen in much less time than they considered.
5. Don’t work around them. Often, when working with the client, you have a contact, the boss, and a bunch of other folks you would like to take to Happy Hour. During those clandestine trips to the local bar, flacks have been known to ask “So, what do you think he or she will say?” Well, how would they know? They are going to guess just like you would. If you have bad news, be upfront with the news. Don’t you think it’s a good idea that the news comes from you before someone else? Tell the client directly what happened and how you will fix it. They’ll respect you for it.
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