Make no mistake. . .persuasion is an art form!
As public relations professionals, we understand the vital importance persuasion plays in almost everything we do i.e. dealing with media, influencers, opinion leaders or just about any third-party “endorsers.” It’s THE key factor in our being successful.
That said, there’s another area where we could spend more time and planning to be persuasive. That’s making sure that clients take our best advice and counsel. It’s easy to assume that we’ve been hired for that very reason. But it doesn’t always happen that way; company politics, distractions, and poor relationships can subvert even the best PR counsel. A couple of quick tips on being persuasive:
Always advise from the POV of the client’s best interests. Make the client feel you’re on the same side of the table. Don’t bring your interests or abilities into the mix; at the end of the day, you’ve been retained and are being paid to think about their needs.
Make sure you look at the big picture through their eyes, but retain your objectivity. And let them know you’re doing just that. Part of an agency’s value is the perspective we bring; chances are we’ve been down the same or similar road with other clients; we have our ears to the ground when it comes to influencer and media opinion; and we’re not as swayed by internal politics or history.
Listen first. You can only apply your expertise in meaningful ways and be perceived as a valuable resource when you’ve really heard what the client is saying. It’s much easier to be persuasive when you demonstrate that you’ve paid attention, even to the smallest detail. So, before you opine, listen and ask questions. Then listen some more.
Build a case. When pitching clients, we present and prioritize objectives. When we pitch media or any third-party endorsers, we organize our persuasive messages and key points to put our best foot forward. Do the same in persuading clients to follow your best advice and counsel.