Often, when a new client is getting started with a public relations company, they will ask “What makes a good client?” or “What makes for the best client/agency relationship?”
What they may not realize is that just by asking these question, they have already done the best thing a client can do when they are coming on board with any public relations agency.
BLASTmedia (www.blastmedia.com), a national, B2B public relations agency, came up with some of the top 10 things companies can do to make them a “good PR client.”
1) They ask how they can have the best client relationship!
It seems like a simple question, but some clients never ask how they can enable PR agencies to do the best job on their account. If you’re going to pay for a PR agency, why not help them succeed? It’s like buying a brand-new car. It can get you to where you want to go, but if you never take the time to fill up with gas or change the oil every 3,000 miles, you might as well start walking.
2) They have a good product or service.
Products all have basic quality standards to meet. Cars shouldn’t break down. A laptop should turn on and allow you to do basic computing. But none of these things are what make consumers enthusiastic about products. I know you have the “most revolutionary product since the television,” but does it do anything beyond the bare minimums to be recognized in the product category?
3) They communicate.
Communication starts with the getting started meeting/call and must continue throughout the campaign. Sharing goals and expectations with your agency early on can help them achieve your PR and growth objectives. Your PR team can do great things if they are in the loop. So what are good things to communicate, you ask?
Upcoming product announcements
New company hires
New company partnerships, big customers, etc.
Upcoming events or tradeshows your company is attending or hosting
Interesting things that are happening within the industry
Anything else you think could possibly be relevant to the media (refer to #5)
4) They provide feedback.
A PR agency is doing a great job getting interest and securing coverage, but the client doesn’t give them any feedback on whether the coverage is even moving the needle with Web traffic, conversions, sales, etc. Agencies can change their focus relatively quickly if they are informed the current PR plan needs to be scrapped, but they need client feedback.
Also, it’s always nice to get a “good job” or “this is awesome!” when securing a big coverage hit. We know you pay us to get coverage, but it’s always nice to get a “thanks” every once in a while. Don’t you agree?
5) They understand that we are the experts.
While we love suggestions and feedback, as I mentioned, it is also important that clients recognize that we are the experts and that they are paying us to know and deal with the media. Sometimes, they need to trust us to do our jobs – even if it isn’t something that they necessarily want to hear.
6) They are accessible.
PR reps are often at the mercy of a journalist’s deadline, which is sometimes within the hour, so it’s important to have access to client at all times (or at least have some backup contacts at the company). It baffles me when clients don’t respond to media requests (interviews, images, info, etc.) in a timely manner. Companies pay agencies to get them media attention, but as soon as they “tee it up” for them, they’re nowhere to be found.
7) They realize that they aren’t always going to be the feature story.
If your company name doesn’t start with Google, Microsoft, Cisco or IBM, you’re going to have to accept the fact that you might not always be the featured company in an article – at least for the time being. Our goal as PR reps is to get you media coverage that will ultimately help you achieve your marketing and overall business goals. While we will always be working for the “big hit” or the feature story, companies should also appreciate the company/product round-ups and second-tier media coverage. It’s better to be included among competitors than not included at all.
8) They have an understanding of PR, or at least the basics.
This is one of the biggest battles PR reps face when it comes to client relationships. Unlike advertising, we cannot completely control the content or timing of coverage. We inform, influence, and encourage coverage, but what comes out is up to the editor.
Here are a couple other basics:
>Short leads vs. long leads. Just because we’re reaching out to national magazines right now, it doesn’t mean you will be included in next month’s issue. There is a lead time with all media — from minutes to a few days with bloggers, to 3-6 months with magazines.
>Big media hits vs. targeted media hits. We know you want to be on Oprah, and it may even help with sales, but it may not be the best audience for your new software solution.
>Bad reviews are par for the course. This usually comes back to #2 (having a good product), but there are times when a certain editor or blogger just does not love your product and we cannot make them. That is what makes editorial so much more powerful than advertising — it is supposed to be unbiased from one person (expert) to another person.
9) They realize WE are on their side.
I think oftentimes clients can forget that we want tons of quality media coverage in top-tier media that drives our client’s sales and Web traffic just as much they do. If we don’t do a great job, we lose your account. I think that’s great motivation in itself.
10) They pay us!
We are not non-profit organizations. While we do love what we do, we certainly can’t afford to do it for free. And just in case you were wondering – no, we do not do “free trials” of our services. Our current and past client results speak for themselves.
This is obviously not a complete list, but this certainly gives a good overview of what makes a good PR client.