08 Apr Building strong client foundations
PR companies would not exist without their clients and businesses would not be as successful without the media exposure their PR teams deliver.
At XL we pride ourselves on our long-standing client relationships. Fundamentally they are built on three things: communication, consistency and trust.
Regular and honest communication is crucial to the success of every campaign and underlines the entire client relationship.
XL takes proide in being a consultancy not an agency – there is a difference. Our clients work with us because we are not yes men. We offer honest advice – based on our wealth of experience working with the media and delivering creative campaigns – to help guide them; but these are not always easy conversations to have.
When a client wants to draft and distribute a detailed press release announcing its updated website, it is our job to tell them why this is not a good idea. When a client says “we just want coverage to sell things”, it is our job to map out the campaign process for them and create a series of compelling newsworthy messages and stories that actually engage the media.
Without effective communication – from both sides of the PR/client fence – campaigns are doomed to fail and you run the risk of damaging newly-earned journalist relationships.
Certain PR agencies have a reputation for delivering early on with new clients but as new business comes in, performance levels drop, personnel change and targets stop getting hit. There are few things worse for a new client relationship than suddenly changing the client’s contact – often from senior executives to junior staff.
Working in the industry, you also hear stories of agencies charging clients for attending meetings or constantly up-selling services they are not experts in. In our opinion, doing one thing brilliantly is much more effective for business prosperity and long-term client relationships, than being amateurs in several other areas.
By agreeing a detailed plan – which includes measurable targets – at the beginning of the relationship, PR companies can consistently deliver the coverage and awareness their clients want and need.
It may sound clichéd but trust is hard earned and easily lost. Delivering on your promises and performing to a consistent standard goes a long way to building trust, but so does your behaviour. Instead of charging our clients by the hour, we use a service level model to manage agreed activity every month – without fail.
In doing so, clients have a clear understanding of where their budget is being spent and our consultants have the direction they need to perform.
As results continue to deliver and exceed expectations over time, client relationships grow too. From the PR perspective, understanding of their organisation deepens and the working relationship becomes closer – until you are indispensable.