By Tiffany Miller, Account Supervisor, R&J Public Relations
There is a common misconception about our industry that absolutely drives me crazy, and it can be summed up in two words: press release. While I won’t argue that press releases are one of the many tools that we use to elevate brands and build awareness, they aren’t what we base communication programs on, or how we develop long-term relationships with clients, or secure new business. We do that by adding value, and we do it in a variety of ways.
Understanding that no two clients are alike, the way in which we add value differs for each account; however, for the purpose of this post, I’ll focus on some general ways we move past the dreaded press release misconception and become a valued partner for our clients.
- Plan strategically – Just like no two clients are alike, no two PR plans should be alike. A strong strategic plan should have insight from key stakeholders and should address top opportunities and challenges. While the plan will form the foundation for ongoing activities, it shouldn’t be set in stone and should be reviewed with the client regularly to ensure that their goals are being met.
- Offer fresh ideas – Chances are you’ll get into a groove with your client as you continue to grow your relationship and their business, but bringing new and fresh ideas to the table regularly enhances your value position with them. Even if the client doesn’t choose to implement your idea, most will appreciate your forward-thinking and it further indicates your commitment to their success and at times makes them aware of additional capabilities you bring to the table that they maybe weren’t aware of previously.
- Talk the talk – Be up to speed on your client’s industry. Read about their competitors, read their industry outlets, and follow the news that’s relevant to them. Clients may hire you for your communication expertise, but they’ll continue their relationship with you if they feel you truly understand the challenges and opportunities occurring in their world and are able to speak on their level and offer solutions.
- Be accountable – Do what you said you were going to do. It sounds simple, but it’s where so many client relationships fail. One of the easiest ways to show value to your client is to properly execute agreed upon plans, offer new ideas, and provide progress updates.
- Say something! – Work to build your relationships with your clients by making a point to see them regularly. Face time with clients is invaluable and gives you an opportunity to connect with them professionally and personally. Speak up in meetings and share new ideas or something that you saw happening in their industry. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be all business all the time. Try to get to know your client on a personal level by asking them questions and tapping into their interests. It goes without saying that people like to do business with people they like.
There is no one size fits all approach to adding value for your clients but these are some key places to start so your client doesn’t see you as the press release writer but sees you for what you really are: a valued partner.