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Managing clients' expectations

There are a significant number of misconceptions as to what exactly a PR strategy entails and how it adds value to business. This presents a considerable challenge for practitioners in the PR space, particularly with regards to the management of client expectations.
Assisting clients with a comprehensive understanding of what PR is and the process behind it can dramatically improve their satisfaction with your services.

Firstly establishing the client's long and short-term goals will provide you with insight as to how they measure success. It is important to determine which outlets they believe are relevant to their campaign and to then realign their expectations by helping them understand which outlets are most suited to their objectives.

While it's crucial to develop a PR strategy that clearly outlines the best channels to reach the relevant target audiences, it's equally important to ensure the client understands the reasoning behind the selected media. To avoid disappointment, it's imperative to be upfront with clients about why their story might not be appropriate for a particular publication.

Important factors

Secondly there are many components involved in the outcome of a PR campaign that clients may not be aware of. Timing, in particular, is an important factor to communicate extensively around as it can prove tricky and clients need to understand this. Return on investment is, of course, an area which requires detailed discussion. How does the client define success and is their expectation realistic in terms of their outlay? It's important to collaborate together with the client and establish what defines the success of the campaign.

Closely related to this is the client's current perceptions of the value of PR. PR entails considerably more than publicity and PR practitioners need to ensure their clients understand the numerous ways in which PR can add value to their marketing efforts. Clients need to be aware that embarking on a PR campaign requires a certain level of commitment and investment from their side. It must be explained that the true value of PR strategy involves long-term objectives.

It is vital to develop an integral understanding of how your client's business makes money and to work together with them to establish how their PR strategy will contribute to the return on their marketing investment. What are you doing to challenge your client's thinking with regards to how they can continually improve their programme and add value to their business?

Honest and transparent communication is vital to the effective management of clients' expectations. Clients that have an accurate idea of how PR works and what they can expect from their PR campaigns will derive far greater satisfaction from their PR services and will develop a better understanding of the true value of PR.
Lee Jarrett
An interesting read, especially when so often PR is perceived as a 'cheap' / quick fix instead of a long-term brand building investment.
Posted on 15 Nov 2012 14:39