By Donna Fontana
Managing Director, Rubenstein Public Relations
The field of public relations encompasses more than navigating the dialogue between clients and the media. It is a complex, detail-oriented communications discipline that builds relationships and reputation, resulting in a measurable impact on the achievement of strategic goals.
Providing meaningful client service in a service-based business that’s filled with intangibles requires dedication and a commitment to excellence to ensure a client never has to wonder, “What is my PR agency actually doing for my brand?”
Consistent structure is essential, using procedure and document templates as the building blocks of effective service. Phone calls and meetings are somewhat fluid, so creating productive agendas, recaps, and weekly/monthly reports helps provide clients with assurance that the agency is effectively and consistently moving towards completing key tasks that will ultimately achieve business objectives and goals.
Three things that are imperative in a successful client/agency relationship are: Values, Trustworthiness and Clear Communication.
Relationships are about understanding one another’s core values, and in turn, these values stand at the very core of decision-making.
According to a study by Barrett Values, which researched more than 2,000 private and public organizations over 10 years in more than 60 countries, value-driven organizations are the most successful because they adhere to a very simple algorithm:
- Values and behaviors drive culture.
- Culture drives employee fulfillment.
- Employee fulfillment drives customer satisfaction.
- Customer satisfaction drives shareholder value.
Clients want a PR agency that takes a genuine interest in them, so make sure you clearly understand the values that drive the brand and/or client and ensure you guide them towards achieving their goals while aligning with their values.
By understanding how your role aligns with their day-to-day activities and accomplishments, you will strengthen the relationship and trust factor.
Have you ever played the “trust fall” game, where you tip backwards and hope the person assigned to catch you actually follows through so that you don’t hit the ground? A PR agency is like the catcher and the client is the one falling backwards, trusting that you will catch them before they tumble over. Clients need to believe you are going to provide a safety net and come through for them at all times.
This trust is ultimately about integrity and transparency in your activities, which is just as vital as tangible results because clients will sense if you are just telling them what you think they want to hear. Honest feedback as to why something succeeds or fails is important so that clients trust that you have their best interests in mind. After all, trust is the most important aspect of any relationship.
Regular status updates and consistent communication has always been a necessary component in establishing strong partnerships with your clients, and it is also critical that you are engaged on their behalf on any relevant communication via social media that may have an impact on their brand, their service or their company.
Applying the trifecta of Values, Trustworthiness and Clear Communication will help cultivate a dynamic relationship with clients that support a long-term business relationship. By incorporating a disciplined approach into your practice that includes message development, strategic planning and media relations outreach, while maintaining sight of a company’s value proposition and branding goals, your agency will be synonymous with high-visibility coverage and meaningful client service.