As a public relations professional, you may have faced your share of demanding clients. In fact, you may feel as if you have only had difficult, hard-to-please clients.
But since you are a professional, you know that even the most demanding client can be won over to your way of thinking. But you may have to try a variety of strategies.
Whether you have company management who refuses to participate in any PR efforts or leaders who don’t understand that they may have to spend money to make money, we have some approaches that you may want to try.
Here are some ways that you, as a PR pro, can change your management strategy to appeal to your most demanding clients.
1. Become extremely familiar with the company culture and leadership
To understand the need of your client, you need to know what makes them tick. You need to know the history of the company. You need to know about their successes and their struggles. You need to know about past PR strategies and why they failed. You need to know who the company’s real leaders are and who you need to get on your side.
To get this kind of information, you are going to learn as much about the company before you darken their door. While there, you need to ask the right questions and carefully note each response. As a PR strategist, you know how important it is to be an amateur psychologist to help you learn how to analyze people.
Become familiar with the company culture and leadership will go a long way when working with a company that is notoriously demanding.
2. Gently educate your client about your industry
It could be that the customer is distrusting of PR firms in general because this step was not clearly outlined in the past. You may need to educate your client a bit about your industry gently, so the leadership knows what to expect.
The past company’s strategy may not have been effective because the leadership wasn’t taught what was expected of them through the process.
You may find it necessary to educate your client on highly personalized account-based marketing. Up till now, your client’s marketing strategy may have involved casting a wide net in hopes of finding a customer within the large catch.
Or perhaps there is another public relations or marketing approach that has shown some success in the industry that should be considered.
3. Focus on the client’s goals
After getting to know the company, the next step in pleasing a demanding client is to become laser-focused on their goals. Without having specific goals, you will have a difficult time showing your worth to your client.
As a professional, it is up to you to suggest appropriate goals. You will also inform your client about how you will measure your success rate. Then, you will follow through with your plan.
Your client wants to feel as if their company is your top priority. For this reason, communicate with them often. The communication should discuss your plan’s approach. On top of that, remind your client that you know and understand the goals.
When good press happens, shout it from the rooftops. When not so great things appear in the media, take your client’s calls immediately, and ask to meet to have a strategy session.
5. Build a relationship built on trust
Your client needs to know that they can depend on you no matter the situation. This trust may take time to develop, but it begins with forming a relationship with the right leaders. It continues with being in constant contact and staying laser-focused. This trust also comes from being readily available should a negative incident cause lousy press.
6. Be prepared to have difficult conversations
Perhaps you can see that one of the significant detriments of the company is that the CEO insists on being the face of the company. If this is not a good fit for this particular individual, you may have to be prepared to have an awkward conversation about this.
Perhaps the CEO’s son was in charge of writing the copy for the company’s website. The CEO is proud of his son’s work, but the text uses messy SEO strategies and does not present the company in the best light. This may cause you to have another complicated discussion.
As a PR strategist, you know that you can’t come in with guns blazing. You have to be delicate about such matters and may have to wait until your client trusts you before giving some valid and needed criticism.
7. Underpromise and overdeliver
If you feel that it will take six months before your strategy will be noticed, tell your client that you believe change will be seen in nine months. Send out useful news bulletins if the plan worked faster than you anticipated.
8. Always show your value
Many PR firms make the mistake of relaxing after they won a client. But if everyone involved in the strategy knows the client’s goals, if you offer consistent communication, and you underpromise and overdeliver, you may not have to fight so hard to have your customer sign the next contract.
Even though these strategies would certainly be helpful for new or demanding clients, these are strategies that would work well for your current clients in any industry.