Marijane Funess June 20, 2014 | 11:10:38

PR Pros: You Can Better Educate Your Clients!

Every PR agency-client relationship can benefit from education. Of course, the agency team needs to get up to speed on the client’s product or service, whether it’s a  B2B/tech innovation or a new consumer product. Clients also need to understand the power of public relations to drive great campaigns in tandem with other tools and tactics like effective content. So it is up to us as PR professionals to revert to what we know best and do a little “PR for PR.”

From the outset, define your role as professional consultant rather than simply “service provider.”  Some clients view agencies as order-takers for news releases or  social media posts rather than as a strategic communications partner who best do their job as informed and involved members of the marketing team.

But make sure the scope of work is crystal clear. Other clients incorporate the agency into everything and truly look at the team as an arm of the company. Good problem to have, right? Yes, if the terms are spelled out clearly and the compensation is fair. Otherwise, such “scope-creep” breeds resentment and threatens even the best relationships.

Go back to basics. Sometimes the client missed the memo and has an incomplete understanding of what PR is and what it is not. With all the changes in the industry in the last few years, it is particularly important that the CMO or other client contact has up-to-date experience or information. With absolutely no condescension or inflated sense of importance, take the time to build in an explanation of the agency’s role (and potential role) in ongoing communications such as reports. Refer back to goals and expectations for the assignment and make sure the decision-maker is aware of the client-agency communications and accountability process.

Illustrate rather than pontificate. When making your points, think in visual terms rather than a spew of words. Just like in the best presentations, if you can say it with examples and images, the takeaway will be more palatable and memorable.

Never stop. As your agency-client relationship grows and trust increases, take it upon yourself to introduce the client to new ideas and “boundary-stretchers” that will help with reputation management and interest in the product or service. Take the time to make  a concrete case for new initiatives and push for collaborative brainstorms and other sessions to get all parties to offer up good ideas.

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