Find out how agencies can improve their client communications
Communicating messages to the outside world is our business and our clients tell us we do it pretty well! However, just as crucial, yet sometimes trickier, is being able to communicate well with clients in order to make the most of their messages and ensure that they are keeping us informed on what’s going on within their business.
Of course, different clients work in different ways dependent on everything from time pressure, the importance they place on PR and even individual personalities, so there is no one fix for all.
Dream clients naturally tell us everything that is going on in the business as soon as they have developments, allowing us to pull out the interesting bits and spread the word in a relevant manner; others need regular reminders that we are there to help, forgetting that we have a joint aim; getting that message out there!
Until you start working with a client, it is hard to know what will work best for them. In the push for attaining that new contract, while discussing the strategic aims of the business and what they hope to achieve from their PR, it is also crucial to include a discussion of the practicalities and expectations of how information flow will work. We can find PR opportunities, but unless we have an insight into what is going on within the client business, we can’t make the most of those opportunities. Once a plan for information flow is established, it is even more crucial to ensure that everybody sticks to it.
The responsibility lies with both the agency and the client and in the busy world of business, it is important to make the expectations of contact realistic, but without regular information flow there is only so much a PR firm can do. We are not here to add extra pressure to a busy day, but on the contrary to support and maximise the hard work that is being done.
It’s no different to a relationship with an architect; an architect draws up the plans but needs approval (and sometimes tweaks) before submitting the plans – we, the agency, do 95% of the actual work but do need to check in and get approval once in a while to ensure we are on the right track and meeting the business objectives as well as the PR ones!
Ensuring good, regular client communications also means that in casual conversations, we can often pick up information that the client may not have realised was newsworthy and interesting, as for them it is average day to day business.
Tips for good client-agency communication:
- Discuss the importance of two-way communication in the very first meeting with a new client.
- Start by picking a regular 10-minute slot on the same time and day each week at a usually less busy time for the client.
- Make it a habit and stick to it!
- As time goes on this can be reduced for clients who find they would rather make contact as and when something new occurs, but maintained for those who like to know that is their PR time of week.
- If, for some reason, the time slot is missed, keep on top of rearranging and ensure that the following slot gets back to the usual time.
None of this is mind blowing; sticking to deadlines is just good practice for many things in business, and yet it can make the difference between competitors, with those who are disciplined about it gaining a communication advantage.
By helping us to help you spread your crucial messages we can work as a team and ultimately save you time so that you can focus on your business while we tell the world how great it is!
Contributed by Natasha Tompkins, Scene & Herd Consultant
Scene & Herd specialises in all aspects of rural communications from traditional public relations to digital marketing and everything in between. Contact us for an informal chat.