5 Qualities of a Good PR Client

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An informed client is an advocate for your public relations agency.

A bad public relations agency client is like a really bad meal—miserable but not life-threatening. Still, it’s good to avoid them a much as possible. And the best way to do that is to know what qualities to look for in a good client/agency relationship. So I present, shop 5 Qualities of a Good PR Client.
1. Good clients have a realistic budget. Unless the new client has had a former relationship with a public relations agency, he is likely to be clueless about the cost of a public relations program. But, hopefully, a good client will realize that he has to spend money in order to make it. So, it is your job to help educate him as to how you work: What is your monthly retainer? How much do you allocate to fee vs. expenses? What is the average length of your contractual arrangement? Good clients take the time to be educated.

2. Good clients are interested in working with someone they can trust. When a client trusts you as a communicator they take your opinion seriously, especially if your opinion is contrary to theirs.No client like to hear the word “no.” But, after all, they have put their business in your hands and are depending on you to be the monitor of their brand image.

3. Good clients are willing to accept advice. A good client is eager for advice, that’s why they hired a public relations agency to begin with. They allow you to become a part of their marketing team—working with them and not necessarily for them. I have had the good fortune to have worked with a number of good clients who even sought my advice on matters from what I thought about their advertising campaign to how they should appropriately congratulate their boss on his promotion.

4. Good client have a single point of contact. You’re on a deadline and you need that quick approval—who do you call—the client contact. You don’t want to have to deal with several point people, when one will make your life so much more effective. Make certain that you get that point person, and then go on to earn his trust—he’ll be your client for life.

5. Good clients participate in the process. Now that you’ve got that point person, you want to make sure that he remains involved and engaged in your public relations program–but not too much. An uninformed is not a good client  Assure him that part of your job is to make his job easier, and that you value his opinion as well. A good client will review your monthly status reports and not merely file them—and if possible, you’ll develop monthly review meetings so that you keep the client informed. An informed client is an advocate for your agency.

How to Handle PR Nightmarish Clients

Bad Client

Every agency’s got one—the nightmare client. And if you don’t have him now,  trust me, you will experience this at some time in your agency life. If you work in the public relations business long enough you will certainly have horror stories of clients with bad habits and unrealistic campaign requests.

Yes,  I have fired clients in the past—and it’s not something that I relish having to do. But sometimes when you’ve taken enough Valium and pulled your hair out by the roots, it’s time to cut the cord and let him go. But not every horrible situation has to go that far. Sometime all you need is a little time and a lot of patience.

From my experience, here are five nightmarish client personalities—along with gracious solutions for dealing with them.

1. The pedantic, passive aggressive. This one can be a real doozy. He wants to take forever to brief you on the business– taking days and sometimes weeks –causing major start-up delays on your part that may ultimately hinder results. They’ll be major rewrites on the press background materials and the press kit sits not only in the client’s office, but often in “legal” for weeks. Once I had a press kit sit in legal for nine months—yes, I could have had a baby in the time it took to approve the press kit.
In this case you’ve got to get to the decision-maker(s) and explain that time is money and offer to have a sit-down to get things moving.

2. The cheapskate. This is the PR client who has already negotiated the budget down to the bare basics yet remembers all the goodies that the original proposal promised—and wants them included—for free.
In my experience, no client likes to hear the word “no,” but you’re got to be firm. Try negotiating an hourly fee for additional program elements. Don’t let them get away with trying for freebies.

3. The absentee. Sometime worse than the client who hoovers over your head, the absentee client is a danger. I once had a pharmaceutical company launch its product without us! Yes, they actually forgot that they hired a PR agency—you can’t make this up. In this case reach out to the client’s assistant, even if it is a secretary and make your situation and needs known. S/he can often be a lifesaver.

4. The idiot. This person’s lack of knowledge will not only hinder the implementation of your PR program, but can hamper your results. Though he may be a great business person, when it comes to communications, well, it’s just not his expertise.
Manage this type of relationship by setting expectations and goals. Let the person see some of your previous experience and results with similar clients so that he can be reassured that you know your stuff. Assure this person that your job is to help him look good—that’s often worked for me. So, with all due respect, please get out of my way and let me do my job.

5. The hothead. The hothead often shows his stripes at a meeting when he is feeling uncomfortable and unprepared in front of his peers.
Take the time to email briefing documents in advance and review them prior to the meeting. If this behavior continues, or he becomes abusive to your of your staff, well you need a one-on-one meeting in which you lay down the law, gently, but firmly.

Watch out for my next blog post where I highlight a PR agency’s favorite types of clients.

The Use of the Telephone in Public Relations

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The introduction of the telephone into public relations

Remember when  Sex and the City Carrie Bradshaw’s boyfriend broke up with her via a Post-it note? And then my friend Naomi broke up with her boyfriend via email. Sometimes I like to imagine what would happen if the telephone was just invented.  I  imagine writing the press release announcing the new product  introduction–it would go something like this.

New York, NY — Today, XYZ company announced the introduction of the telephone, a new technological advance in one-on-one personal communications whereby people can actually hear their party’s voice live, in real-time. This new, instantaneous communications device can take the place of email and text messages thereby virtually eliminating those nasty auto-correct messages.

“All you have to do is dial someone’s personal number and whoa la, a live voice answers the line,” announced Mike Jones, CEO of XYZ company.  “In the past, communications were sorely lacking that personal touch–that immediate interaction. Now, with the telephone, consumers can realize the satisfaction of knowing that what they are saying is not miscommunicated as often occurs with both text and email messages.”

“In the past, consumers had to use emojis on texts and emails to ‘soften’ their conversation and make sure that the recipients of these electronic messages were not “offended” or” put off” by the words.   Now, with voice-to-voice communications, consumers can actually listen to and understand the emotions behind the spoken word,” noted Mr. Jones.

Imagine how simple it would be to establish a rapport with your friends, clients, business colleagues.  No more guessing as to the emotion behind the message. No more challenges trying to decipher auto-corrected messages.

As for using the telephone in public relations–try it! It works wonders when you are trying to establish initial rapport with a potential client, a current client or a journalist.  The invisible wall and distance that occurs from texts and emails can be shattered with a simple, “Hello Tom, this is Temi.”

Finally, a new technological advance that puts the conversation in real-time.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Ace a PR Presentation

Ace PR Presentation
5 ways to ace a public relations presentation

OK, cure so you’ve gotten the call—you’re one of the agencies chosen to present your recommended public relations program to the perspective client. You’re passed the written portion of the “test” and now you’re on to the in-person review.
Preparing for the presentation is probably the most important part of the “test.” Remember: It’s the presenter, not the presentation. So everything is riding on how the presentation goes. So, with this in mind, here are five tips on how to prepare for this vital experience.
1. Know the client. Yes, you are going there to present your recommendations, but you are also going there to make an impression. How knowledgeable are you of the client’s company, brands, history, etc.? How knowledgeable are you of any issues affecting the client? Their website if where you start but they are also looking to see what kind of research and industry investigation you did. What can you bring to the table?
2. Know your audience. Are you presenting to the CEO, president, product managers, public relations people? If they are bringing their “big guns,” then you have to do the same. Make sure you know who the participants will be ahead of the presentation. You don’t want to embarrass yourself by not bringing your “A” team if the CEO is present.
3. Case the space. Try to get entry into the presentation space ahead of time. Set up the projector and screen, arrange the collateral materials, select agency and client seating, check the lighting and air, make sure you have bottles of water on hand and remove anything from the conference table that may be distracting.
4. Think on your feet. I always tell my staff that there’s no such thing as a wrong answer—there’s only the non-answer. I encourage them to attempt a response and if it’s incorrect it’s my job is to jump in with the proper response seamlessly. So, if my colleague attempt the response, I may jump in with, “Well, in some cases that may be effective, but in this particular instance perhaps this would work better…..” Presenting as a team can prove extremely effective in this instance.
5. It isn’t over till it’s over. Follow-up is key in eliciting important feedback and determining where the decision-making process stands. If there are fence-sitters, they can sometimes be swayed through after-the-fact communications.