There’s a library worth of material available to help businesses select a PR agency; however, there aren’t as many resources about how to be a good client. Public relations success doesn’t come from pure luck, fate or happenstance. In my experience, the best PR starts with a strong agency-client relationship. I wrote the other day that I recently fine-tuned my vision for the types of clients I want to see Geben Communication take on in 2011. I’m looking for good clients … not just another peg in a client roster. For companies looking to hire a PR consultant in 2011 (me or someone else!), keep these pointers in mind.
The agency-client relationship should be a partnership. That means clients should see the agency as an extension of their marketing team. Collaboration and teamwork are important. If a company thinks they can 100% outsource all their PR and social media without even offering input, that’s destined to be a doomed agency-client relationship.
Next, businesses entering into a relationship with an outside consultant need to have realistic expectations. Saying, “I want to be on Oprah,” or “I want a feature-length article in Mashable/TechCrunch/other popular blogs” isn’t the best place to start. Sure, we’d all like to be on Oprah, and yes, my clients have been covered in Mashable, WebWorkerDaily, TechCrunch and other high-traffic blogs, but that doesn’t mean all clients will get that coverage right away. Instead of pining away, hoping to be covered by the “big boys,” find an agency partner who can help secure coverage in media outlets that target your readers. There may be a host of small- or medium-size, niche communities worth exploring. Often, it’s these hidden gems that deliver better results.
There’s a saying, “You can only lead a horse to water. You can’t force it to drink.” Agencies can’t make magic happen if the client isn’t receptive to new ideas. If your business is thinking about hiring a PR consultant, first, make sure you’re willing to take their counsel.
Lastly, pay your bills. Agencies will work harder and longer for the clients who are prompt about payment. A couple months behind in payments? Odds are, your work falls behind the other clients who pay in a reasonable time.
To summarize, a good client:
- Wants a partner (not just another vendor)
- Maintains realistic expectations
- Listens to counsel from the consultant
- Pays their bills
In your experience, what else makes a strong client-agency relationship?