The ability to effectively manage agency/client relations is a skill which benefits everyone in your organization, regardless of where they sit in the office. As a successful public relations professional, I’m always looking for new ways to foster a positive, productive and trusting relationship with my clients.
Managing client relations is obviously something we take very seriously here at Overit. Happy clients create a happy agency! Below are some of the obvious and sometimes not so obvious tips for a successful agency/client relationship.
1. Tell great stories
PR is all about storytelling – and to be a good storyteller you have to be passionate about what you are talking about. Ask lots of questions and learn the ins and outs of not only the company you are working for but also the executives you are working with. The more you learn about your client and their world, the more you make yourself an invaluable extension of their business.
Immersing myself in my clients’ worlds has always come back to benefit both me and them. For example, I had a client with a very complicated and intricate technology. To really grasp what they were doing I asked a ton of questions to get a solid understanding of what this new technology offered to clients. The more I asked, the more personal of a connection I was able to make with this client and I ended up discovering a super quirky founding story I articulated into a pitch which garnered tons of coverage. It was win for me and them!
2. Be able to say no
This can be difficult. Clients will always have outrageous requests that as a seasoned PR practitioner, you know are just not feasible. When your client tells you they want to be on the Today Show every morning don’t be afraid to say that just isn’t going to happen. Managing expectations can be one of the biggest obstacles new managers face, especially as we strive to make our clients happy. Instead of yes’ing them to death and setting them up for disappointment later, provide them with realistic goals that you can deliver on. By educating the client and being clear about what is and is not reasonable will go a long way to establishing trust.
3. Pick up the phone
Between email, instant messaging and texting it’s very rare that you actually get on the phone and talk to someone anymore. Well, I hate that. Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of advantages to sending a formal note via email or shooting a quick text but every so often it’s important for you to pick up the phone and talk to your client one on one. Having phone conversations (or better yet catching up in-person) are key to building lasting relationships. There is also a trust factor that is created when you establish that verbal connection. I recommend talking to your client at least once a week on the phone and meeting in-person at least once a quarter.
4. Find out their goals and expectations… then deliver
Establishing goals and expectations is something that has to happen before a plan is even put into place. Have an up front conversation about what exactly the client is looking to get out of the partnership. I always like to ask a client to send over the top 5 outlets that they like to read and the top 10 outlets they would their company featured in. I make it a priority to have those goals established before I even start the pitching process. It’s always the best feeling to hear the client’s excitement when you just landed them in their industry’s favorite outlet.
5. Deliver not great news in a great way
I lucked out with this one because I learned from the best (my team knows who I’m talking about). PR isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Whether a story runs that features a clients’ competitor or our client is in the midst of a crisis, you need to know how to fix things. For starters, get on the phone with your client and address the problem, then offer a solution. You need to plan ahead and know exactly how you are going to address something before it happens. Being prepared and being able to explain how you will rectify the problem to your client is the best way to show you are always one step ahead.
At Overit, we’re lucky to spend our days working with great clients. And mastering the client/agency relationship to make sure we’re doing right by them and setting proper expectations, it ensures we’ll be working with each of them for a long time.