Relationships have two outcomes – either a couple stays together forever, or they break up. The same can be said of PR clients. While there is no reason why every client/PR firm relationship cannot be positive, most will eventually end. Handling this process effectively is key to ensuring all parties reflect on the partnership correctly – and can even lead to renewed business down the line.
The lead up
A good PR agency is a useful one. They can improve sales, strengthen brand reputation, take care of marketing efforts and otherwise leave the client free to focus on other aspects of their business. Yet even the most useful PR agencies may have to face leaving a client behind.
Clients leave for a wide variety of reasons. Contracts could soon be ending, money might be unforeseeably tight or better opportunities for both parties might come along. The end of these relationships is usually amicable. The client can take steps to ensure the company remains competitive, while a PR firm can renew its attention on existing clients or otherwise bring in new ones.
A serious turn
Occasionally what a PR company proposes to the client and what the client needs from the relationship no longer align. The client may have gone international and require a PR agency with an entirely different focus. A new marketing strategy could mean that the PR can only be handled in-house.
Then there are the serious issues that all PR agencies must avoid. These range from something as simple as a lack of enthusiasm for the job to placing coverage in a media outlet that bears no relation to the client. A seemingly small mistake can have serious consequences for the client, and as the PR agency there must be a level of accountability.
Ending on a high
Key to a successful closure is the handover period. Work must continue to be of a high standard, communication strong and expectations met. Just because the relationship is ending, does not mean both sides can phone it in.
Going above and beyond during this time period can go a long way to leaving a strong, lasting impression. We recently said goodbye to a long-term, loyal client that we have had an overwhelmingly positive partnership with for years, but circumstances meant we had to go our separate ways. We were working on a social media campaign that would continue past the end of the partnership and was being handled entirely at our end.
To ensure the client would not suffer once we had left, we completed the entire campaign – designing 40 individual social media cards. The client continues to use these cards, meaning their social media presence that we worked hard to build up organically has not suffered from the end of our relationship. As a result, we are still working with the client on individual projects past the end of the contract.