For many PR practitioners, bringing in a new client is an uplifting and validating experience like none other. A new challenge, new people to work with and the opportunity to strengthen your reputation in the PR marketplace by satisfying yet another client. As thrilling as it is, however, it is just the beginning of your work. The harder part comes with delivering what you promised and meeting (preferably exceeding) your new client’s expectations.
At this point, there is no more important step to take than to establish how you and your client will communicate and calibrate your activities through the course of your engagement. Contrary to what some may believe, the client must be an active participant in a PR engagement. This doesn’t mean they will do the work but it does mean that everyone will have a common understanding of the goal, the tactics and how you will measure success. You also want to ensure that the client will be available to provide information and guidance, and that she will be closely monitoring your work.
Step one in this process is to agree upon a workplan, a timeline and the metrics by which you and your client will measure progress. The exact nature of these will vary from engagement to engagement but it is vitally important that this is done at some level regardless of the nature of the project.
Step two is to establish a regular meeting schedule. I prefer a set time at an interval that makes sense – daily, weekly, monthly – along with a set agenda to guide the conversation. This kind of discipline trains the team to stick to the important points and remain focused. Discussions about PR campaigns – like anything else – can drift off course and this can help ensure you are using your, your team’s and your client’s time wisely.
Finally, since your direct client may not (probably is not) the only person in their organization that needs to see the value of your work, it is extremely important to establish a practice of reporting regularly – clearly and in writing – the deliverables you have produced in a way that shows the value you are bringing to the table. Including such a document with the monthly invoice is a good way to handle this. It is easy for a PR practitioner to get immersed in the battle and not tend to these fundamentals but neglecting them is at their peril of the service provider and a disservice to their client.