July 29, 2008

Great Clients Aren’t Born, They are Made

Posted in A walk on the "dark side" tagged at 11:52 am by R

The wisest business people, I have learned, are often the ones who realize that they aren’t able to strategize and execute on all levels of their business. They are willing to accept expertise from people who are knowledgeable in their respective industries and are happy to have those people contribute to the company’s success.

That being said, there are business people out there who think they just know better. When it comes to design or public relations strategy, I’ve come across many who just want it done their way. And that’s not always the best way to do things…especially if they are going to hold you accountable in the end.

I’m paid to act in the client’s best interest, sometimes that means saving them from themselves.

Here are three tactics that I use to nudge clients in the right strategic direction:

  1. Outline the Consequences: Make sure your client understands that if they don’t go with your strategic suggestions then they won’t necessarily get the results they are hoping for.
  2. Manage Expectations: You know what your clients media goals are. Be sure to highlight what they can expect with relation to those goals for each means of execution. As in: “It’s not likely that you’ll see an article in December if I don’t have approval by such and such a date. Otherwise, it’s not likely that we’ll see anything until March or April.” (See how I used #1 and #2 there!)
  3. This is a two-way street, so look both ways: Make sure your client understands that they have responsibilities in getting the job done too. Many clients don’t understand the commitment that is Public Relations. Be clear about what your expectations of them are to get the results they desire.

When you get a client committed and involved in the process, help them understand what to realistically anticipate and communicate what the consequenses of inaction or alternative execution are, everyone is going to be happier.

The goal is not simply to get client coverage, but also to help clients understand the process, understand what is newsworthy, understand how they play a role in the media.

In my experience, these three tactics are critical in helping clients to become familiar with the PR process, establishing appropriate client/vendor boundaries and helping your client see you as a professional and expert when it comes to public relations matters.

It’s my theory that great clients who take direction are open to unique strategy and hold up their end of the bargain aren’t born, they are made through great experiences with PR practitioners who help them understand the trade and the benefits of well-nurtured client/vendor relationships.



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