The key to creating a lasting relationship between a PR agency and a client is to never take his or her loyalty for granted, even when things are going well. That’s easy to say, but hard to do consistently. Taking your foot off the gas pedal for even a short time can strain that loyalty, which you earned with hard work, intelligent counsel and business-driving results. Here are four things we strive to do for clients that aren’t written into our contracts:
- Always be enterprising. Sure, you have the PR plan in place and everyone is rowing the same way to gain momentum, but the news cycle is “always on” and that means savvy PR pros constantly find fresh ways to insert their clients into the conversation – even when “it’s not in the plan.” Not all of the ideas will be homeruns, but a handful of doubles and triples per quarter generated from enterprising ideas is a sure way to keep a client happy.
- Anticipate needs. A solid PR team sees itself from the client perspective, and understands what problems will likely arise and how to solve them before they become issues. If your PR agency frequently seems “flat-footed” in times of crisis, the relationship will gradually become broken.
- Fail quickly. This seems counterintuitive, but there’s value in recognizing that a PR initiative isn’t working, and quickly pivoting to a strategy or tactic that will yield results. A smart PR team understands the difference between a good idea and wishful thinking, and knows (as mentioned above) that not every idea will be a homerun.
- Don’t be a slave to the scope of work. Yes, it’s important to manage the agreed-upon scope of work with the client, so as not to radically overwork the account. That doesn’t mean, however, that initiatives falling outside the scope should be dismissed without considering the opportunity cost. Will it only take you a couple of hours to help out the client in meaningful way? Just do it. It costs far less to do your client an out-of-scope favor than to replace that revenue and valuable relationship. And on the flip side, an upstanding client knows (or should know) when they’re pushing too hard – just like in any good relationship.
There will always be outlier client-agency relationships that simply don’t work, no matter how hard each party tries. But if your PR firm does the above to the best of its ability, the chances are good for a successful, lasting engagement.