You spend a lot of time figuring out what sort of vendors you need to help support, manage and grow your business. But have you ever thought about what it takes to be a great client? Maybe not. You might say “Hey, I’m paying good money for a service. I don’t need to be a good client– they just need to do what I want.” Well, a productive and results-oriented client/vendor relationship is just that… a relationship. So here are my top five characteristics for being a great client:
1) Be Curious: One of the best by-products of a successful relationship with your publicist or PR Agency is the opportunity to understand PR as a methodology and an industry. The more you understand the principles behind getting a media “hit” or the necessity of dealing with the media appropriately, the more your expectations become clearer, and creative new ideas begin to emerge. Without having to become an expert, just be curious about what it takes to get the results you most want. A good publicist uses the opportunity to educate a new client in order to demystify the process, and empower the client to gauge successes.
2) Be Honest: A publicist’s arsenal is only as good as the information you provide to her. Be absolutely honest about the strength of your product, initiative or service. In some sense, she will take on the role of the journalist and ask tough questions which, together, you can prepare for. Do not feel like you have to “spin” your product to your publicist in order to get her juices flowing. That’s her job. Also, be honest about your hopes, dreams and expectations for your communications plan. Make sure your publicist is not just a “Yes” person– “Sure, I can get you on CNN. No problem.” Be very wary of loaded promises. Any PR person worth her salt will be very honest with you about what she thinks she can achieve for you. Your product might be great, but there are a number of factors– including timing– that your PR person should review with you before you pack your bags for the The Today Show.
3) Be Open-Minded: Believe it or not, PR might not be the best avenue to achieve your business goals. You may have your heart set on getting that big article, but an honest and experienced PR person will tell you whether or not PR is right for you. Perhaps you might want to consider other communications avenues including social media, advertising, marketing and promotions, sponsorships, etc. Be open-minded about matching your communications activities with your business goals.
4) Be Savvy: If you and your communications person have decided that media coverage the next best step for your business, take some time and really begin to understand the outlets your publicist will be targeting. When was the last time you actually watched Larry King Live? Do you know how many business and finance shows there are on cable news outlets? What print and online publications do you read for your business. Work with your publicist to develop a stellar media list before she spends any time flying blind. Yes, it’s her job to do the actual work, but being media savvy saves you time and money.
5) Be Engaged: Sometimes, it’s just easier to hand over a retainer check and let your vendors do all the work. But think about the last time you did that. Were you stuck with a big, fat bill and a confusing activity report and left to wonder “What did I just pay for?” You and your business are at the heart of what your publicist will be promoting. Remind yourself that communications is not an afterthought. It is a critical component to your success. You should be excited about being in front of the camera, or creating a campaign that shows off your best assets. Be engaged with your PR person. She’s there to help. 🙂