Importance of Getting To Know Your Client
What would a PR firm be without their clients? Clients are a huge asset and necessity for any sort of success. This being said, a PR manager must understand everything from their client’s background to their needs and how the two entities can work together. Really, it is a give and takes relationship that has to be mutually understanding of one another’s needs and limitations. For an extra edge in the PR competition world, one must be prepared to study their client in depth to know how to best present them to the world and media. While it may sound harsh, there should be tons of questions from each side of the equation to reach a comfortable conclusion. For a short while, a PR manager should consider themselves a private detective. Anything about the client that is necessary for a PR agent to do their job is what is needed to know before any promises or contracts can be made.
Here is an example. Say a heavy metal musician is needing a Public Relations firm for promotion and other media projects. It is likely that this individual’s target audience is those who listen to this kind of music or similar, and less likely that there would be a promotion for this person on a children’s learning site or a PBS channel. This is a very extreme example, but one to draw the bigger picture of the need for understanding. This makes the first step simple enough, learning what the client is all about. What is their aim? What are they looking to achieve? Being elaborate in creating a game plan for the client’s success is the grandest way to ensure it. Perhaps there is a particular audience that they wish to aim towards, or maybe the goal is to welcome new viewers from perceived outside audiences. The broader the span of information given, the greater the opportunities for development and success, whatever that may be in the clients’ plan.
This need for common understanding can also produce a great obstacle, underperformance on the part of the PR expert. If a firm is unaware of the needs of their client, this can lead to missed opportunities. Underperformance is one of the greatest ways for a problem to arise. A deeply intense discussion of any and all goals could put the chances of this happening to a minimum. If that discussion doesn't happen, it results in an unhappy PR Manager and a seriously disappointed client. It is for this reason that there are open opportunities for questions and answers. After this, there should be no need for mistakes of this nature to occur. Of course, expectations and needs can change, but with frequent communication, it should be no large issue. That becomes the second key after the initial conversation, follow up discussions.
In the end, what is Public Relations without great customer service? It is one of the oldest professions and still develops with changing times and technology. According to HeyWire Business, 52% of customers prefer text messaging as the primary form of customer service communication, and 53% of customers between ages 18 and 34 prefer forms of electronic medias (including email, texts, and social media) as opposed to traditional phone calls. This not only illustrates the need for the PR firm to develop to communicate with the world as a whole but also with their individual clients to keep updates on their cause or projects. Any firm should be up to date on modern customer service practices and welcome them into their curriculum when training new PR associates. If clients are treated with the greatest customer service, then they are likely to continue business with you, and possibly even recommend their friends and fellow coworkers.
How can a PR manager know how to begin in helping a client if they do not know all of these fundamental aspects of their business or image? Misrepresentation and misunderstanding are big problems that could easily be avoided with the proper precautions. In a way, the practice of getting to know a client is a sort of “Crisis Communications” prevention solution to that potential “crisis,” which is, in this case, misunderstanding a client or their needs. Using PR practices to solve PR problems? This is a great way to think of this situation. While clients deserve the best customer service, so does the firm representing them. Treat the PR firm like it is its own client, and this will nearly ensure the avoidance of most any “crisis” situation in the future.
Vessella, V. (2015). Knowledge Is Power: The Importance of Understanding Your Clients. Retrieved from http://www.business2community.com/customer-experience/knowledge-power-importance-understanding-clients-01404914#haEhyHLylEU02Y42.97
Zelmer, W. (2016). 8 Crucial Questions Every PR Pro Needs to Ask Their Client Before Getting Started. Retrieved from https://www.bulldogreporter.com/8-crucial-questions-every-pr-pro-needs-to-ask-their-client-before-getting-started/