They say it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but as I embark on my 40th year of working in the media and PR industry, the start of 2016 seems the perfect time to share some of my top tips for a long and happy client-consultancy relationship, writes FSC director Steve Dann.
I’m probably a bit long in the tooth for resolutions, but if I was to make any, the following would be on the short-list:
- Don’t get bogged down by the mundane. PR consultancy should be about bringing brilliant ideas to the table. After all, clients rely on us for inspiration, and not just perspiration.
- Pick up the phone to your client or agency contact or even better still, meet. We all rely far too heavily on email. There’s no substitute for talking through a brief or an issue, in person.
- Remember the value of effective PR. Too often consultancy’s under-sell, and clients under-value, the importance of sound reputation management. Until of course it goes horribly wrong.
- Think holistically. Media convergence, and social media in particular, has blurred the lines between marketing and PR so consultants need to understand how best to integrate campaigns, and advise clients accordingly.
- Focus on delivering great results. Never forget that consultancies earn their living by coming up with creative, high-impact campaigns, which clients love us for.
- Agree the KPIs up front. Before the campaign starts both the client and consultancy need to agree what success will look like.
- Build into the relationship regular business reviews. Aside from regular (monthly?) client-consultancy meetings, set time aside to review how the account is running including the commercial and team performance, and chemistry aspects.
- Brainstorm ideas. The best results come from agency and client teams working in partnership to develop new creative thinking.
- Pitch perfect. Agree the ground rules up front before embarking on a new business opportunity. Both parties need to respect the professionalism required to develop a coherent, insightful proposal and put aside enough time for the process, including the presentation. Never send or review a proposal by email without a chemistry meeting first.
- Have some fun. Working in the communications industry, especially with clients in the hospitality, travel and leisure sectors does, thankfully, not tend to involve life and death situations. Informal times, such as the odd visit to the pub, with a colleague, client contact or journalist works wonders for relationships…for ideas…and for morale.
Whether you set resolutions or not, it’s a great time of year to be reviewing, revising and renewing aims and objectives. Happy New Year to all our clients, prospective clients and friends within the media industry.
Steve Dann is co-founder and Client Services Director at Fleet Street Communications