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.