PR Fish Bowl

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Tuesday Tips: The Introductory Meeting…

That first client meeting…not exactly like the dating phase.  After all, you’ve made a commitment to see each other on an exclusive basis.  You still want to make an excellent impression, though, while everything is shiny and new.  How can you make sure you’ve got everything you need for a perpetual honeymoon? 

Do your homework.  Yes, it’s your job to learn at that first meeting, but don’t show up without laying the groundwork for success.  Learn about your new client’s history with media, and don’t forget about the competition.  What has worked?  What hasn’t?  Is there one reporter at a key publication that who just doesn’t seem to be impressed? Make sure you learn about priorities and pain points.  

Remember to involve the family.  If you’re the team leader, make sure that you involve your entire team in the conversation and give each of them a chance to shine.

Think about the future.  Based on your research, come up with a couple of ideas for media pitches, or even special events.  It’s usually best to have some ideas in your back pocket, and it will make everyone on the team feel more comfortable.

Make an effort to look spiffy.  Even though you’re hired, you’re still dressing to impress.  Showing up in overly casual clothes, while trendy, isn’t cool. 

Take notes.  This first meeting is a valuable opportunity that won’t come along again.  It’s a free pass to ask as many questions as you’d like, but make sure you don’t have to ask again.  Record everything, especially if you have team members who’ll need your notes.  Plus, you’ll be referring to them a lot, so organize them well. 

Socialize!  Take advantage of the getting-to-know-each-other meeting to have dinner together, or at least drinks.  Team-building is important.  Take your client’s cue about personal matters, but if it feels comfortable, find out about spouses, kids, dogs, cats and background.  If you know some of the same people, or have some of the same interests, you’ll get to know each other far more quickly.

Focus.  Don’t check your email or show any distraction except during scheduled breaks. No matter how long the meeting, show interest at all times. Though you should make sure the entire team has questions, you should be prepared to listen more than you talk.

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