How to be a good client

Well it’s been straight back into it here at Peekaboo HQ this year. Barely time for a cup of tea much less a blog post. But to kick things off in 2011, we thought we’d tell it like it is. And our first top tip for this year is: how to be a good client.

If you pay someone to do your PR, a large part of the success of the campaign will come from you. That may seem ironic. Surely if you’re paying someone else, they should be doing the work while you simply watch the sales go kerching? But a PR company cannot work in a vaccum. If they do, results will be affected and your PR spend will be wasted. In contrast, when a client ‘gets’ PR and knows how to work with their PR team, magic is made.

Case in point, we’re about to enter our sixth year of working with one of our clients. We have achieved phenomenal coverage for this client, won PR awards for them and we continue to get great results so that their company name is plugged into Google directly because people have heard of them, despite them being a small fish in a big pond.

The reason is simple. The client is fab. This is what a fab client does:

  • Responds promptly when a press opportunity arises.
  • Knows how to get key messages across with passion in interviews (and yes this may take some media training, but ultimately all the training in the world won’t help manufacture passion if it’s not there).
  • Is open to new ideas, brainstorms with you (after all, they know their business inside out) and is prepared to take some risks.
  • Shares the success when something goes well and is prepared to share the responsibility if it doesn’t work – rather than entering a blame game. As the Wonder Pets say: “What’s going to work? Team Work!”
  • Prefers the hours to be spent getting results, rather than on butt-covering reports. If the campaign is working, it will show itself in the sales, not a carefully bound coverage book.
  • Is prepared to tell their personal story.
  • Gives good, clear briefs.
  • Doesn’t micro-manage. Trust is pretty key. And as a PR person, you need to earn the trust, but if it starts out with the client trusting you and expecting you to succeed, you will.
  • Pays their bills on time.
  • Provides the information you need, when you need it.
  • Understands the meaning of deadlines.
  • Signs off on plans so that they can actually be carried out.
  • Has realistic expectations. Believe me when I say that most PR people want to get amazing coverage for clients. It’s what makes us get out of bed in the morning. But clients need to be realistic in terms of what they can hope to achieve based on their budget and their story.

So, if you are considering hiring a PR company, make sure you have realistic expectations as to what your involvement will be. The agency will do the bulk of the work, but as client, you have an important role to play too.

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