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TGIF: It’s Award Season – Even In PR

by guest blogger George Drucker

We’re getting into awards season. . . in film, television, even public relations. It reminds me of a learning from years ago that has affected my modus operandi for business development and client relations ever since.

Winning awards for creativity is great for the ego. But it’s not necessarily what clients want. At least, it’s not everything.

I will never forget my shock and surprise when Tom Harris – of Golin/Harris fame – published the first of his client surveys of perceptions, wants, needs, and  interests in hiring and retaining outside public relations firms.

Through the years, I had the good fortune to win several PR Awards for creative programs and implementation, from PRSA Silver Anvil to CIPRAs, Golden Apples, Golden Trumpets and everything in between. I thought creativity ruled, that original thinking, tactical implementation and creative results were what impressed and motivated clients to hire and retain their agencies.

It came as an eye-opener to me that, according to Tom’s first study, the #1 priority for clients is actually SERVICE. No matter how you sliced and diced the data, responsiveness and service level were the most important factors in prospect and ongoing client decision making. Out of Tom’s “Top 10 Needs” for clients, creativity ranked #9. It was a factor–but not a vitally important one.

His ongoing surveys through the years have borne this out, and it certainly changed my perspective. Creative product is very important, but not at the expense of client service.

Whether you’re an agency working with corporate communications or marketing departments, or an internal PR function whose “clients” are inside the company, keep in mind that returning phone calls promptly, anticipating client needs, and essentially crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s might be among the most important things you do.

When you can combine that service ethic and flawless execution with inventive thinking and a creative package, you’re running on all cylinders. But start with the basics, and show your clients where your values lie.

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