Five practical tips for building a relationship with your PR client

Last year, I spoke about how you, as a PR expert can establish a reputable relationship with the media. Now let’s talk about the relation you have with your clients. All said and done, clients depend on PR for their image, but it is equally important that PR agencies depend on clients for their image too. As you may already know, the relationship is a two-way street, so let’s build it right. You have established rapport with your client, so how do you maintain it?

#1. Identify realistic ideas for the business:  While it’s always good to impress, it is best to share ideas that actually work in the real world. As experts, your ideas must match the requirements with the value of the brand.
Tip: Understand client’s budget, brief, and the idea, before you share an activity plan. Study the market accordingly and provide ideas that work great, not just sound great. For instance, if your client is a huge brand, but the project is small, submit ideas (small or big) that will get great results.
Please note: Launches and announcements will not always require large scale ideas. Be simple and it will do wonders!

#2. Don’t Agree to Disagree: It wouldn’t be fair if you had to blindly agree to whatever the client says. If you are an expert in media relations and your client interferes in the way you approach the media, here’s what you should do.
Tip: Carefully listen to what your client means and if the idea doesn’t work, state reasons to why and come up with an alternate approach mentioning your stand, the pros and cons.  Your client will only trust you more. Don’t always say a blind no to what they suggest!

#3. Avoid the feeling of being taken for granted! While it’s your duty to make sure that you submit the right text, visuals, documents with our clients, you may often face situations where clients send back the documents to change a word or make a minimal change.
Tip: Check your work twice before submitting to avoid silly mistakes and multiple back & forth between you and the client. If you’re unsure of something, please leave a comment to request for clarity or quickly email your queries, so you can send the correct version at first itself.

#4. Be honest about your deadline: You work on multiple clients and every client deserves equal amount of time. So, calculate your time with the amount of work you have on each of the accounts and be honest with communicating your time to clients. 
Tip: If the work includes drafting press releases or creating a coverage dossier, which genuinely requires some time, make sure you convey the exact time needed, not an expected time. Clients appreciate honesty.

#5. Lastly, simplify processes for both: Yes, PR includes a lot of documentation and that’s only stored for our record, right? Processes such as the daily updates, monthly reports, status reports, minutes of the meeting notes, media briefing documents can be simplified if you want to. According to me:
Tip: 1. Request clients for the format they are comfortable with receiving the daily updates. 
2. Avoid the hassle of generating detailed monthly reports by creating an excel sheet on Google Drive to track the number of coverage clips, mentions, interviews achieved. (Do add your clients on that document, so they can access it anytime without troubling you).
3. Vouch for a bi-weekly call rather than a weekly, which makes the call even more productive. Send an agenda to your client, so the call is focused.
4. Send in media questions, brief on journalists and publications on email before the client’s call, so they can read it on their cell phone easily. Clients do not prefer attachments

Aahna Gandhi Gupta is a PR professional and a 2015 PRmoment India 30 under 30 winner

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