Outcomes rule. Clients hire agencies for results, experience and
strategic counseling. The best agencies maintain their stature by
developing a client relationship built on trust and flexibility.
At times throughout the course of this relationship, original goals and
strategic direction must be shifted or reevaluated. However, when you
and your client do not agree upon a course of action and you know your
client is about to birth an unwise or off-target communications
initiative, how do you keep your client in line? Tell them their baby is
ugly. Clients want help, not hot air.
Client success is driven on honest work, not false flattery. As a public
relations expert, you are required to make recommendations hypothesizing
both positive and negative outcomes of a situation and letting the
client make an educated decision. Any off-target programming is
detrimental to a client in this uncertain economy, not to mention a
direct reflection on an agency's reputation.
Try to prevent the train wreck. If you can't, get off before the
Consider the following scenario: Your client has a national news
conference coming up but the spokesperson feels he or she is prepared
and does not need media training. UGLY.
Or this tale: Your client feels they no longer need your strategic
counseling help. To 'save money,' they've decided to have their sales
staff create news content, but they'd still like you to pitch it
Particularly in this economic climate when clients are precious cargo,
how do you educate your client without derailing a client
Use the current market to your advantage. Pull case studies off the
front page showcasing companies that have tried slingshot PR methods in
the past and have learned the errors of their ways through corporate
downfall and reduced profit lines.
The agency/client relationship requires mutual respect and a trusted
relationship. Mutual respect includes you. This is always easier said
than done, but it is vital to maintain the role of counselor to foster
your client's business and not relegate yourself to purely tactical
Adhere to this advice in your next client meeting. Keep an open ear and
carry a megaphone. They will thank you later when stock prices escalate;
when the company turns a profit as competitors sink; when a crisis
doesn't hit the front-page news; when the train doesn't crash and the
investment in your services pays off.