I have a love relationship with my public relations job.
Here are the few things I love about PR:
- I love the passion we have for helping media connect with others and providing them with information for stories
- I love the sense of accomplishment when I spot a feature story on the front page of a top tier media target that the team made happen
- I love getting a client’s appreciation about coverage achieved
- I love telling people I work in PR
- I love the sense of completion when all interviews are done and information is sent to the reporter
- I love the fact that we achieve more deliverables for every month
- I love that everyone can rely on each other and we are there whenever a colleague needs us
- I love the “A-Team”
The atmosphere at Active has made me and the whole team forget about the lows’ part and keep it up always. We are all confident of who we are within the industry
As PR professionals working in an agency we should thrive in establishing solid relationships, not just with the media, but especially with our clients. While we are their consultants we must always keep their brands’ best interest in mind and be seen as part of their team. Communication is the key for a successful client relationship, but there are other factors that help build up a solid relationship between the PR consultants and the clients they deal with directly.
Here are seven useful tips in strengthening this crucial factor of an agency’s daily work:
- Be a good listener – Whether you have a conference call or a one-to-one meeting with your clients, be sure to listen carefully to their needs and try not to interrupt them, even if the discussion is not going in the right direction. You might find out interesting things about their business or personal things that you can leverage in the future to understand them better.
- Always be available – You should give your clients the possibility to contact you whenever they need. This might mean making yourself available after working hours or during your days off. But when you are working in a dynamic environment such as PR, this is a requirement that we should fulfill to give clients reassurance that, no matter the time, we are looking out for their best interest.
- Go the extra mile – This might already be a cliché in all fields that involve client relationships, however, in PR this is not a recommendation, but a must. Your work does not stop when you have achieved your deliverables, but you must always be proactive and find new opportunities for your client to shine.
- Be prompt in responding – Things tend to happen fast in PR, so promptitude is essential to solve critical situations and to respond to time related media opportunities. Don’t postpone answering an email or making a call, make sure not to miss deadlines and call back if you have missed a call.
- Keep in touch with clients – You might not need to see or talk to your clients on a daily or even weekly basis, but you should keep them updated with the latest industry or competitor news, enquire about their business and even if you stop working with them altogether, make sure you are not forgotten. Set up occasional informal meetings, go for lunch or coffee, send them a birthday greeting card or congratulate them on a promotion.
- Don’t be afraid to say NO – Contrary to how the saying goes, the customer is not always right. Sometimes you might disagree with your client or have a strong belief that they are wrong in their actions. Don’t be afraid to make a stand and explain your point of view by bringing solid arguments. This will be beneficial on the long run, as you will be seen as an opinionated person and they might even thank you it. After all, we are here to consult them, not just to execute.
- Be honest and transparent – It goes without saying that all relationships should be based on honesty and your PR clients deserve nothing less. Don’t hide things from them, such as missed opportunities, explain the operational and financial aspects of their account and admit when something is beyond your scope of work. Never promise what you cannot deliver.
In the PR industry we are extremely lucky. In what sense you may be thinking? Yeah, I know PR has been rated in the top 5 of the world’s most stressful jobs…and of course there is a reason for that. Nevertheless, in the middle of all of that we are lucky to be in the minority of jobs that are unpredictable, exciting, buzzing, interesting, constantly changing and each day is always different than the next.
We have been working on a number of new business pitches, where we get to plan the strategic thinking and recommend the tactical approaches for a number of businesses throughout the ME region. Recently, we have been given the opportunity to work on a pitch for a client that has highlighted an element of PR that we don’t get to work on a lot, which has us rather excited, and that is crisis management.
It is important to always keep in mind that a business’s reputation is everything and that reputation, in business, much as in life, are fragile and one little mistake can possibly cause permanent damage to a company’s image. This is true now more than ever with the emergence of Social Media and the popularity of the digital world. Companies need to listen, effectively communicate and respond in a way that aligns both brand messaging as well as consumer expectations.
Let’s take a look at some basic rules in handling crisis management
1. There is no excuse for being unprepared
Ensure that you keep your crisis plan up to date and simple, this should be a live document that gets amended and changed on a yearly basis at least. Do not wait for something to happen before understanding what it is your crisis plan outlines.
2. 48 hours
These 48 hours are crunch time, if you do not communicate something within that time frame you can be sure that someone will and the information they share may be inaccurate, create the wrong perception and take months to fix and overcome. It is impossible to over communicate during a crisis.
3. Listen and be present
You need to be aware of what people are saying, listen to your customers, acknowledge their concerns and ensure that you respond to them and treat their issues with importance. Simply dismissing an issue will not make it go away.
Trying to cover up justified but negative comments can make you look as if you are ignoring a problem or, worse off, don’t care about the customers. It is important to be honest and upfront about any issues your company may be facing. Making mistakes is human, if you have made a mistake, admit, apologise and correct.
5. Social Media Management
Make sure you limit the number of people who have access to your social media forums to knowledgeable community managers who have the right training and experience in this field. It is also important that if your employees are on social media forums they are aware that they represent your company, and they need to maintain a certain online image that aligns with that of your company messaging and branding.
6. Every crisis is an opportunity
In the midst of crisis, there is opportunity, yes, there is risk involved, but do not be afraid to seize the opportunity, should it arise.
If you ever find yourself in a crisis remember to take a deep breath, take one step at a time, maintain a live crisis plan with key messaging and keep open, transparent communication lines between yourself, the media and your customers.