PR planning

Cultivating the Relationship

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Managing expectations is a critical component of the agency-client relationship at TrizCom PR. We often begin a new business development meeting by simply asking why they are interested in a public relations campaign. Some have replied that they just want to see their name in the paper, but most are using it as a marketing tool to secure incremental business for their businesses. They believe—and are often proven correct—that earned media equals credibility in the marketplace.

Another caveat we explain in exploratory meetings is that PR is a marathon, not a sprint. It can take months of careful planning, pitching and execution before a client begins to see worthwhile results. We also never guarantee anything. PR firms that promise instant stardom for a client shouldn’t be considered true partners. That being said, we will work our tails off to ensure success, we just don’t promise it from the outset. Our proof points are the client newsrooms we maintain on our website, showcasing earned media wins for each of our existing and former clients.

If the image in their head doesn’t materialize into their version of reality, we encourage an extremely open and honest dialogue with clients. All PR plans are signed off on by clients before we begin campaigns. Each includes objectives, strategies, tactics and most important—how will success be judged by the client? If we can prove we’ve met that standard of success and they’re still not happy, then something changed. We find out what it is, adjust our plan accordingly and continue working.

What are you even doing?

I was in a new business meeting last year with two executives from a company out of Houston, Texas. No strangers to the power of PR, they had engaged a firm on retainer for the past year but just weren’t seeing the results they had hoped for the amount they were spending. One of the executives remarked that the only thing the firm had brought to them in the last month was an opportunity to write an editorial for placement in an industry publication. And they didn’t even offer to write it.

“What type of PR plan are they working from?” I asked. They both looked up. Then they looked at each other. Then they looked back at me. I had the answer I suspected. The company was completely clueless as to what the PR firm was working on. There was no plan submitted – monthly, quarterly or annually. No review of ideas, tactics or strategies delivered on a regular basis. No updates. Just a seat-of-the-pants dart board game in which once in a while they got a hit.

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Who does this? How are they getting away with it? At TrizCom PR, we want our clients to feel comfortable asking this question at any time: What are you even doing? But the way we operate, they never get the chance. We pride ourselves on developing strategic public relations and media outreach campaigns. The length of time they cover varies depending on the client and the type of industry they’re in, but everyone has an idea of what we’re working on together to achieve success.

At TrizCom, we’ve even patented an internal “Monday Morning Check-In” email that gets delivered to our client contacts before our weekly staff meeting at 10 a.m. Why do we do this? Because we want our clients to know what our shared pending items include. We’ll tell you if you have a press release that needs approval, an interview Wednesday at 2 p.m. and an editorial byline opportunity – if you can approve it before the two-week deadline. And we’ll even take the steps to write it, if necessary.

And how about measurement? Does your current firm hold themselves accountable for the results they produce? While there’s no such thing as guaranteeing coverage, we pride ourselves on performing without a safety net, so to speak. And just as you get a regularly updated PR Plan, you’ll get a regularly updated PR Clip Report. For me that means some of my busiest weeks occur at the end of every quarter. But it sure makes annual client retainer renewals easier to sign.

What are we even doing? That’s what we’re doing.