As with any service industry, client tensions will inevitably arise from time to time. The issue is perhaps more acute in PR because despite recent progress, it is difficult to put a financial value on media coverage and other PR-related activities.
In a recent piece for Influence, the CIPR's weekly newsletter, professional services' PR expert Matt Baldwin provides some excellent advice on how to avoid these tensions.
In a nutshell, the article includes the following tips:
- Don't over promise
- Take time to understand a clients' business & sector
- Fees - be transparent, if you have to charge for add ons, explain why
- Maintain regular & meaningful contact
I would emphasise one final point:
- Client team - all to often, large agencies will use their most senior executives in a pitch situation but then send in junior staff to run the account. It is not unreasonable for clients to expect to see the staff they met at the pitch. Sending in substitutes, no matter how competent, is probably one of the quickest ways to instill a lack of confidence.
Client agency tensions By Matt Baldwin, Coast PR firms are, essentially, no different from any other professional services provider. We sell ideas, knowledge and insights, and charge based on time and perceived value. Unlike our legal or accountancy colleagues, the barriers to entry are lower and the results we deliver, despite recent progress, remain hard to measure and, occasionally, to explain. At the heart of the relationship is the promise that my agency is best placed to deliver the client project or campaign. That promise may be in the shape of clever ideas, track record, sector expertise or personal chemistry, but in a crowded and fiercely competitive market, with very little to differentiate one agency from another, it is all too easy for those promises to become overinflated.