6 ways PR pros can build genuine client relationships
Whether they work at an agency or in-house, PR pros have clients.
At an agency, it’s the companies that hire them. In house, it’s managers and the business units and spokespeople on whose behalf they communicate.
Building relationships with clients takes time and requires both technical and soft skills. PR is very much a relationship-driven business, so it’s worth investing time to develop them across stakeholder groups.
Here’s how you can build genuine client relationships from the ground up.
1. Do great work
The foundation of any work relationship is doing your job well.
When you know how to execute, your colleagues will rely on you to be a productive team member. Your clients will know they can count on you to execute well and you will begin to develop trust and credibility.
2. Anticipate needs and questions
Being overly prepared is an asset.
Even though it takes more time, you’re able to answer any question a client asks. Much of this comes from experience (so embrace every learning opportunity) but you can also do extra research. So if you’re going on a media tour, research a reporter’s previous stories, personal interests, and if the reporter and client have anything in common. Also know a few lunch or coffee spots in case the client asks!
3. Be human
When you work in professional services, much of what makes a good relationship is chemistry.
You work with clients day in and day out, so you should feel comfortable sharing a slice of your personal life (of course, the slice that’s appropriate for the workplace!).
4. Mirror clients’ working style
The best PR pros are adaptive and flexible and it helps to work the way clients work.
If they prefer Word to Excel, see no value in workback plans, or appreciate emails over memos, reflecting this style in your own work helps demonstrate to the client that you’re on the same level and working in stride.
5. Advise on what is in their best interest
Clients (especially leaders) generally don’t like to surround themselves with “yes men (or women).”
A seat at the table means each individual provides counsel in the best interest of the company and whether you’re in-house or at an agency, it’s in your best interest to provide the best possible counsel to a client.
6. Cut to the chase
Executives are busy and let’s face it, PR comes second to business.
That’s why it’s worth evaluating the time needed for each request. Maybe the discussion requires a 10-minute phone call rather than a 30-minute meeting; maybe the email you send can be cut down by two paragraphs. Clearly state what you want or need, provide rationale and next steps, and your clients will be thankful for your efficiency.
What would you add to this list?
Julia Sahin works in financial communications at one of the largest PR firms in New York and is a monthly contributor to Muck Rack. She plans on doing big things. Connect with her on Twitter. All opinions should be seen as her own and do not reflect her employer’s.
Photo via Pixabay