What makes for a dream PR client?

The perfect agency/client relationship, like all good relationships, needs to be built on trust. As Angela Casey, managing director of agency Porter Novelli, Edinburgh says: “If a client has taken trouble to employ and pay a consultancy, the best way to maximise the value of that investment is to trust them.”

A perfect client/agency relationship must also be built on solid ground. Scott Learmouth, managing director of agency Teamspirit Public Relations, says this requires three things: bravery, honesty and integration: “A dream client is one who is brave enough to challenge the norm and step outside the comfort zone of omnibus research and the basics of Twitter, and is ready to champion PR within their business. Clients who encourage a partnership with their agency where both parties are open to constructive, honest feedback. With integration, the closer the client lets its agency get to understanding its business, services, marketing strategy and spokespeople, the more effective the PR will be.”

Casey adds that for clients to get the most from their relationships with their agencies, they should view them as extension of their in-house teams. “Employing an agency is not about just buying arms and legs – it is about employing a skillset that expands and enhances the client’s business as a whole.”

Looking at the day-to-day practicalities, Casey says that in an ideal world, a client is: “available to comment at the drop of a hat; able to turn around copy for journalists within minutes to a high standard; trusting enough to allow the consultancy to just get on with the job; and happy to have regular, positive meetings.”

Ten qualities of a dream client

1. Must have a decent story to tell, something which is interesting and lends itself well to the media.

2. Has realistic expectations – there's nothing more frustrating than a client who has expectations that are completely at odds with the reality of what it is they have to talk about.

3. Shows appreciation. When presented with a set of fabulous PR results, there's no harm in showing some gratitude.

4. Understands what PR actually is and what it can achieve.

5. Shows commitment to the PR process – agencies may secure all the interview opps under the sun, but if the client can't find time to make
these happen, the PR programme won’t go anywhere.

6. Wants PR rooted deeply in its business and has people secure enough to make this happen

7. Tells its PR agency the truth – from the practical to the touchy-feely stuff.

8. Makes decisions quickly and simply.

9. Would rather maximise opportunity, not minimise risk.

10. Encourages the partnership with its agency to be profitable and has fun doing it.

Thanks to Cath Shuttlewood, director of PR consultancy, SY1 Consulting for the first five suggestions and Emily Buckland, director, consumer at PR firm Porter Novelli for the rest.

Who’s your dream client?

Anne Massey, editorial consultancy proprietor:

“The perfect client, always pays on-time, because self-employed people need a monthly pay packet to meet their bills just the same as the employed executives we serve. It also helps to offer fast clearance/amendment of copy and provision of relevant quotes, so deadlines are always met; and make clear decisions without waffle.”

Jill Hawkins, director of PR agency Aniseed PR

“My dream client is an independent company run by an opinionated, but highly knowledgeable, someone who keeps pushing the boundaries and isn't afraid of putting the cat amongst the pigeons! I've worked with one particular person for about seven years and I've followed him to three different companies. We bounce ideas off each other and I often find myself giggling as I write his opinion pieces because I know they will have an impact when they are published.“

Written by Daney Parker