Are PRs putting enough love into their client relationships?
2 March 2015, Blog
As another Valentine’s Day comes and goes, it provides an ideal opportunity for the PR industry – known as a people’s business – to reflect on how they can make clients feel they have a special partner.
A survey just published by the Public Relations Consultants Association reveals that the things that clients are most looking for on their ‘first date’ is perceived knowledge of the business/sector (71%); followed by chemistry/personality fit of the team (58%) and results from other clients/third party endorsement (46%). The key factors causing a relationship to break down were seen as ‘less impressive results’ (71%); followed by ‘less impressive ideas’ (62%) and ‘ineffective communications between the client and the agency’ (46%).
So how do you ensure a long term relationship? Here are a few TLC tips to get started.
Make a great impression on the first date
Make the effort by preparing lots. Know who you will be meeting and their backgrounds – be interested in them as people not just their business. Know their business and operating environment as much as you can at this stage – talk to others who may be able to tell you about them. Show what you can do for them and mention those who will only have good things to say about you.
Get close from the outset
Integrate yourself fully into a client’s business. Demonstrate that you understand not only what they do but also their markets so you are aware of their needs. And don’t forget to mix business with pleasure. Show interest in your clients as individuals and get to know key contacts personally – you’re going to have a much more productive and long term relationship if you get on well and enjoy each other’s company, as this creates mutual trust and respect. Invite them to a sporting or musical event and ensure you extend the invitation to their partner. Just remember not to ask them out on Valentine’s Day night!
If a working relationship starts to feel like a comfortable pillow it is often time to question it. Whilst clients enjoy structure and familiarity, a routine approach can often develop over time, and like any relationship needs reinvigorating. Be creative with your strategies rather than sticking with the norm. A great way to develop fresh ideas is by talking. Why not invite your clients out for a working lunch or pay for them to join you at a thought provoking communications event? Taking conversation to an alternative environment can often provide fresh head space, catalysing new and exciting ideas.
Be there when they need you most
Be there when there is a problem or crisis – all relationships, personal or business have them. Make yourself available to the client at all times – there are no excuses with today’s technology at our fingertips. Tell clients where you will be at all times of the day so they can contact you easily and share your personal phone numbers with them. Always be a sounding board when things don’t go to plan and help clients manage any crises both in terms of what they need to communicate and how they need to communicate it.
A long distance relationship can often create more issues than they are worth. Don’t be so far away that it becomes a strain on each party. It’s so important to meet up on a regular basis to discuss plans for the future and any issues so they can be nipped in the bud.
Make a real fuss about them
Whether it’s reserving a car parking space, sending a birthday card, ordering lunch or saying thank you, make your client feel extra special. It’s often the simple things that have the biggest impact.
Share great times together
Life’s pressures mean that it’s too easy not to reflect on what has been achieved. Mark what you have done for your clients by taking them out for a celebratory lunch.