More Productive PR Meetings

There has been some buzz lately about the “walking meeting”. While not a new phenomenon, (Aristotle was said to have walked with his students as he taught) the most recent iteration is said to enable groups to be more productive and creative. While enjoying physical activity that energizes, group members are more alert and experiencing different environments which can inspire new ideas and stimulate new thinking.

But, let’s be realistic! In our busy back-to-back meeting packed day, the only walking you may do is down the hall for another cup of coffee. So for those meetings that must take place around a conference table, here are some tips to keep meetings crisp, on-pace and fruitful.

Determine the objective: Meeting agendas function as a roadmap for a meeting. They’re essential. Is this a regular weekly meeting? Are new plans and ideas being introduced, or just updates on ongoing projects? Make sure the agenda is designed with outcomes in mind. This will keep the team focused, on time and result in the most tangible next steps and agreed-upon plans.

You cannot be over-prepared: There’s no such thing when it comes to planning a meeting. Are there ample meeting agendas printed? Will visual aids be required? If multimedia is necessary, test out computer, video and audio beforehand or you may end up presenting with shadow puppets! Always have presentations backed up on a laptop or thumb drive in case you need access.

Ponder the participants: Does every team member need to be present? Unless they have a role, perhaps not. Make sure team members know their role whether they’re leading the meeting, explaining a section or coordinating refreshments and décor. Everyone should know their part.

Best Type of Skype: There are some specific rules for a Skype meeting including: think about your dress and surroundings before initiating or accepting a video call. Extremely casual dress, strange settings, colleagues walking by in the background, and close-up views of eating are just a few examples of Skype “don’ts”.

Make some noise: It may be instinctual for some to stick with the status quo during a meeting: Wrong! Of course there’s a time and place for comments, but feel free to express valuable thoughts and ideas that will help move the meeting forward.

Own your mistakes and learn from them: Every meeting offers an opportunity to improve. Are staff meetings losing steam over time? Are agenda items languishing from week to week? Is everyone on their iPhone?

Maybe you should try a walking meeting! We’d love to hear any meeting do’s and don’ts you may have.

Planning The Perfect Client Meeting

For client meetings—content always trumps style.

However, presentation definitely plays a part when PR pros are attempting to impress a visiting client. To make sure all of your bases are covered – from substance to style – here are 3 tips for the perfect client meeting.

Preparation is Key

In PR, details can make or break you. From a pitch to a media list, thoughtful preparation matters. The same can be said, of course, for your client meeting. Run down a checklist of details, from water to car service. Your meeting is on Monday, but perhaps the client needs a workspace for Tuesday. Can you seat them? Do you have a WiFi login printed out? Keeping these details in mind and planning for them in advance can help drive a successful client meeting. They also show that you care about and respect your client’s time and presence.

Everyone, Please Speak

Client meetings should always be interesting, engaging and client-centric, serving to enhance the agency relationship. In addition to gaining a face-to-face with their “day-to-day,” the client also gets a chance to bond with some of the more senior staffers who fought for their business during the RFP process (and that may have mysteriously disappeared from the daily emails, weekly calls, etc.).  Note to senior members – don’t dominate the conversation in a client meeting. The day-to-day and other members of a PR team should all contribute to the meeting. It highlights the collective competence of everyone in the room, while also eliminating a potentially awkward situation—the PR pro who says nothing.

Decks Really Do Work

Whether a client is stopping by for 20 minutes or five hours, be prepared to guide the discussion. A written deck will allow you to structure the meeting and maintain control. A powerpoint or other presentation can also signal professionalism and vision.  Just make sure your content and creative are equally powerful.

These are just 3 general tips to consider when planning a client meeting. What else do you recommend?