#Winning at Client Relations – Ingredients for Success

July 21, 2017

Arguably more difficult than landing that perfect company feature in a top-tier outlet is managing and maintaining positive client relations year-over-year. As your client’s company culture morphs, executives come and go or product roadmap shifts, your trusted PR team is along for the ride, adapting on-the-fly as the company evolves. Despite the inevitable changes that you’ll experience with your client, what should never change is continually striving to maintain close relations with the client. Whether you’re working directly with the CEO or marketing lead, there are a few key success ingredients that should remain top of mind. After all, an investment in client relations is going to make your work life more positive and productive.

Here are a few fool proof ways to build successful client relationships:

 

It’s All About Expectations

One of the biggest PR-to-client pitfalls is being misaligned on goals, strategy and associated metrics. Even worse? Getting through a launch and presenting what you believe to be a positive recap only to find that the client expected a different outcome. Ouch. To avoid those awkward and unwelcomed conversations the best bet is to start the relationship with a clear strategy that both parties agree on. This means that the PR team needs to call BS when the client believes something is worthy of the NY Times when in reality it’s better suited for a blog. In the same vein, the client needs to be forthcoming about their expectations for PR – are we looking for lead gen, general awareness, app downloads or product inquiries? All of the information sharing and transparency will ultimately lead to better expectation setting, resulting it better PR outcomes that both parties are happy with. As client priorities and goals shift, revisit the strategy on quarterly or bi-yearly basis to ensure you’re keeping pace with the quickly evolving client.

 

Communication is King

While it seems obvious that PR pros (most who have communication degrees) should be communicating with clients, it’s not always the case. Communication isn’t simply following up on the status of a press release that’s in the reviews process or scheduling a call with a reporter. The most successful PR-to-client relations are those where the communication is multi-dimensional. When’s the last time you picked up the phone to check in with the client on the status of the account or catch up on the company? How frequently are you sharing an article on the client’s space because it reminded you of a recent conversation you had with the client? How frequently are you having in-person meetings? Don’t forget that client communication can be personal as well. Whether it’s asking about a vacation or commenting on the status of a sports team they follow – these interactions are important in establishing closer ties to the client. While sky is truly the limit when it comes to client communications, refrain from being transactional, deviate from the action items and look for opportunities to truly build the relationship.

 

Have Fun! 

As PR pros, we spend a ton of time getting to know our client’s, their product, company and space. Admittedly, you’ve probably been out on the weekend and something sparks a great idea for your client. Indeed, it’s a 24/7 gig. In being so close to our clients, it’s also important take time and have fun together as well. A little personal time where you force yourself to not talk about work and get to know them goes a long way when building what you hope to be a long term relationship. Does your client like baseball? Take them to a game. Music fans? Go catch a show. Don’t miss an opportunity to grab coffee or lunch and catch up.

After a big product launch and the biggest conference of the year, our client, Airbiquity, treated our team to a funday where we played tourist in Seattle. From tacos in West Seattle, to the Smith Tour observatory deck and the Great Wheel – we didn’t talk about work once and had a blast.

 

While building and maintaining positive relations is much more robust than three simple tips, it’s something that every PR pro and agency must invest in and continually work to develop.

-Kristin

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