In public relations, client management and accountability is key to a successful account. The goal of public relations is to generate more business for the client. A client expects the same level of dedication and drive on their account as they have in their own business because time is money.
To ensure that client and public relations firm work smoothly and successfully together here are three best practices to follow:
It seems easy enough, talk to your client. However, many public relations teams take advantage of the simplest way to keep an account relationship out of the red. From day one, the PR team should be in contact with a client daily via email and phone.
This isn’t to say you should be bombarding a client with phone calls or emails. Instead, thoughtful and relevant emails and weekly calls with the client should be arranged. This keeps the client and account managers engaged in the specific industry and business for the most updated media strategy.
Alternatively, communication isn’t a one sided deal. A client is also responsible for being available and engaged in conversation with their PR team. A public relations plan can only succeed with the cooperation of a client. After all, if a business has decided to invest part of their budget in PR, they should also invest some of their time to speaking with their PR team.
There will be times in a life of an account where things just don’t go to plan. An announcement may not have stuck with the press, a client may have done poorly in a live interview or there may be a disagreement on messaging – among other issues. When things aren’t stellar for an account, open lines of communication are vital to maintain a consistent bridge of trust with a client.
As PR professionals, we aren’t “yes people”. Part of a relationship with a client is being able to relay your expert advice to them for success. A client will respect a PR firm for giving them professional critique on their interviews and/or admitting a strategy didn’t go as expected.
Companies hire PR professionals because we are seen as the ones with the big ideas. We know how to insert their business into the larger public conversation and make them money with our creative strategy.
Account managers should know enough about a client’s point of view to take one sentence they might have said weeks before and turn it into an op ed or story pitch. As said earlier, clients should never be buried in emails or phone calls from their PR team. Instead, a good account manager should know what stories or topics to plug a client into without having to ask them for every little detail. The clients’ count on a PR team to tell them what they are doing, not wait for the client to give them orders.
Together with communication and honesty, being proactive allows for the PR team to be a step ahead and have the full confidence of the client.