client relations

Cultivating the Relationship

Managing Client Expectations.png

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.

Tap, Tap, Tap … Is This Thing On? Tips to Nail a Radio Interview

We are constantly pitching our clients for radio interviews. All sorts of formats: news pieces, CEO interviews, product announcements, expert commentary, celebrity phoners … the whole gamut. While the concept of capturing a conversation on air seems simple, it is often not.  Just like being a Boy Scout, the key to having a successful radio interview is to BE PREPARED.

Prepare for an abrupt start. Most radio interviews are done by phone, not in studio, and most stations prefer to call you. Some producers call a few minutes before the interview begins, allowing you to listen for few minutes to get a feel for the program’s tone. But others wait until the last possible second, meaning you’re on the air within moments of picking up the phone. When you pick up the phone, be ready to go live on a second’s notice—or on no notice at all. You’ll hear the host over the phone line, so turn your radio off to avoid hearing a distracting delay.

Express passion. Sure, you’re on the radio. But listeners will hear it if you stand, move your hands and smile—so get a telephone headset and gesture away. Try to match or slightly exceed the host’s energy level to avoid sounding flat.

Sit close to the microphone (in-studio). New Radio 1080 KRLD’s David Johnson always tells our clients to “sit uncomfortably close to the microphone.” We can literally hear the distance when the interview airs.

Make the connection (in-studio). We suggest that our clients make eye contact with the host and speak with them as if they are having a great conversation at a party. Be confident, smile. The listener hears confidence. It’s absolutely acceptable to bring a few notes or talking points in studio, but never read them—glance down occasionally if you need to and try not to lose your connection.

Don’t depend on them to make the plug. You’re probably on the radio because you want to promote something—a new book, your website, your company. Although many experienced hosts are adept at “plugging” whatever you want promoted, some aren’t. We send the producer a short bio and key points in advance of the interview which many hosts use verbatim to introduce me on the air.

The truth is in the tape. Few people enjoy listening to tapes of their interviews, but doing so can help you identify and fix problem areas. This is where you hear those dreaded “uhs.”

When Was the Last Time You Checked In?

What checking in might look like…

What checking in might look like…

Every client is different, we all know that. And typically at some point in the onboarding process, you should find out exactly who your regular point of contact will be. You should also find out about their typical workload and preferable times to reach out to them. Always operate from the assumption that your client contact has a “day job” to complete. You don’t want to be seen as any type of a nuisance.

I clearly remember a new business meeting we had at the TrizCom offices over a year ago. A commercial real estate company in Houston sent two executives to meet with us, hear our proposal and see if we might be a good fit for their business. They were working with another PR firm, but they almost never heard from their account manager. When we showed them what our typical quarterly PR plan looked like, they were stunned. They told us they never received any advance plans, strategies, tactics or clip reports. Then it was our turn to be stunned.

What struck me the most is how little they interacted with their account manager. A long time ago, several jobs back, I began sending my clients what I call the “Monday Morning Check-in.” It’s simple, really – just a checklist of pending items, notating exactly where we stand on the different action items in our quarterly PR plan. If I am still waiting on approval for a press release, I re-attach the document. If there’s a pending interview, I’ll add a reminder. If I’m tracking a few current media wins, I let them know of the status. If something is urgent, it gets the ALL CAPS treatment.

As a PR firm, that’s the minimum you should be doing each week to stay in touch with your valuable client contacts. Once they’ve been trained to expect your updates, they’ll come to depend on them. I have clients that I email several times a day. I have others that I may only hear from twice a month. But they’ll be hearing from me. All of my clients can count on the weekly Monday Morning Check-ins. At TrizCom, that’s our way of reminding our clients that our relationship is valuable and shares a common goal to succeed in achieving our public relations goals. In short, our clients always know what we’re doing on their behalf.

What TrizCom clients are saying about us…

What TrizCom clients are saying about us…

In addition to the Monday Morning Check-ins, TrizCom is diligent in providing other updates such as quarterly PR plans, quarterly clip reports and immediate email notifications of earned media wins. If our clients have a pending interview, they won’t begin without first receiving our one-page talking points memos, specifically tailored to the media opportunity.

For us, these communicative efforts are a process not to be taken lightly. Communication is our business. And this is how we check in. When was the last time you did so?

 

Speed Counts

Speed counts. What we’re talking about here is a manner and method to working in the public relations world. We already know that we live in a 24/7 news cycle, and if you aren’t adjusting the method of how you work, you could be missing out on a very successful strategy. Call it an opinion if you want, but earning a reputation based on your effort to respond quicker makes you a better PR practitioner.

The clients I represent already know this. That’s because I pride myself on how quickly I can get them an answer when they ask a question. All of the media contacts and journalists I work with know this too. Even if they ask a question or request information that I can’t get back to them in five minutes, they’ll still get a reply from me letting them know that I’m on the case. Missed a phone call? Dial them back as soon as possible. And if you’re not getting your work emails on your smart phone, get smarter. Makes it very easy to type out a quick confirmation of receipt every time.

Over time, the contacts on the other end of your computer screen will notice this effort. Then they’ll come to expect it. And that’s a good thing. When it comes time for your client to renew an annual agency of record contract with your firm, might this be a point in your favor? When a reporter you’ve worked with in the past needs a source or some fresh quotes for a new story, will your previous responsiveness play a part in their decision to reach out to you at the expense of someone else? You don’t have to answer either of these rhetorical questions because you already know the answer.

Speed counts.

While you can create an incredible reputation from being a responsive account manager, you can also destroy that perception by being careless. You can be quick, but always be thorough. Re-read your emails before you send them. Use spellchecker. At the end of the day, working on your responsiveness in the public relations world is just like any other skill. It can be acquired if you put in the effort.

Still don’t believe me? I wrote this blog in 22 minutes.