Every client is different. Sometimes they have a clear-cut chain of communication and a product that’s easy to understand. Other times, there are a dozen decision makers who want to be involved every step of the way, and/or only the most niche groups have heard of the client’s product or service.
Regardless of where they fall on this spectrum, there are a few simple keys to serving complex clients that will ensure a successful partnership.
Establish a clear point of contact
When working with a complex client, there could be 10 people who want to be cc’d on every email and sit in on every call, regardless of how necessary it really is. While it’s great for everyone to be excited about PR, this leads to unnecessarily long email chains where important information can get lost.
To remedy this, you should designate one main point of contact who will handle the day-to-day communications, and loop in others when it’s called for.
Without multiple voices clogging the airways, you’ll be free to build trust and form a solid relationship with your client contact, the effects of which will ripple throughout the rest of the organization.
Figure out your spokespeople
Picture it: a media relations dream. A Wall Street Journal reporter requests an interview with your client on a very specific aspect of their service. However, the deadline is in an hour, and you’re not sure who to tap for this interview.
You desperately call your client contact, who scrambles to find an expert to speak with the reporter. They find two people who are perfect, but it turns out they aren’t comfortable speaking with the media. Just like that, time’s up, a golden opportunity has passed, and the dream has become a nightmare.
When you start a relationship with a complex client, identify the experts who will serve as your thought leaders for the media right at the beginning. Work with your client contact to establish who can take interviews, what they can speak about, and whether they need interview prep or media training. Then, when opportunity knocks, you’re ready to answer with an expert who will give a killer interview.
Have regular calls with your client’s subject matter experts
As PR specialists, we strive to become experts in our clients’ industries through extensive research, but nothing can replace picking the brain of someone who’s been doing it for years.
Along with introductory calls to supplement your research, you should hold regular (say, once a month) calls with your thought leaders to gain an inside perspective on the latest industry trends, and adjust your media outreach accordingly.
In the end, in order to foster a successful relationship with any client, it all comes down to a building a smooth, consistent workflow to counter the wild and ever-changing world of public relations.