We are quickly getting submerged by December festivities, full of good will and mulled wine.
That partying goes hand in hand with an annual tradition in the PR industry: year-end reviews and proposals. In order to keep the festive cheer flowing and to avoid getting overwhelmed with reviews, we have put together our top five tips to make the process as pain-free as possible.
So, here goes:
1. Always be honest.
If any issues must be addressed, it is best to be honest, confront the problem head on, and, most important, provide a solution. Due to the nature of our industry, there can be unexpected situations that affect the success of a piece of work. So, if something hasn’t gained as much coverage as you’d expected, you must make sure your client understands why, as well as laying out how to avoid a repeat. Although we do our best to mitigate these situations, sometimes they can be unavoidable. By being honest with your client and with yourself, you can analyze results and identify areas to be improved, while reviewing how to build on your successes.
2. Work toward the review year-round.
A great thing about an annual review is that you can see it coming for 365 days. In management terms, this means that there is no excuse not to be prepared. Reviews are there to both celebrate results and to justify business spending on your service, so don’t sell yourself short. Give yourself enough time to thoroughly evaluate activity. Collating results monthly ensures that nothing gets missed and that you have enough time to do what really matters: to review last year’s activity and plan for the coming year.
3. Speak your client’s language.
Communication is at the core of our industry, but many businesses fail to successfully communicate results to their clients. All clients have different business objectives and, therefore, have different things they want to achieve through PR. Translating PR results back into something relatable is essential—sometimes AVE simply isn’t enough. Businesses are continually looking at budgets for efficiency, especially around review time; communicating the results that matter to a client’s objectives shows how your service is helping them, and it makes proving your worth easier. ROI, referrals to the website, KPIs, or industry share of voice could make all the difference to presenting PR activity. Simply providing the total amount of coverage achieved through the year may not do you justice.
4. Sometimes less is more, but not always.
Identifying how your client likes to receive information is well worth the investment and can be used throughout the year, at any meeting. Is your client a detail person, or does he or she prefer core information only? If you are presenting to a number of people with different styles of communication, it is important to appeal to everyone. If in doubt, it is best to over-prepare. It is your responsibility to make sure your client fully understands what you’re saying; it won’t be their duty to decipher it.
5. Approach them like new clients.
As well as assessing the previous year’s work, review meetings give you the perfect opportunity to plan for next year. Working with a client year after year can have its advantages, but don’t forget to think laterally. At Smarts, we approach all our reviews as if we are thinking about a new client. For a creative agency, you don’t want to be seen as static and unimaginative, and becoming complacent with a client who has been around for years can be dangerous territory.
[RELATED: Ragan's new distance-learning site houses the most comprehensive video training library for corporate communicators.]
As a colleague once said to me, a client who is “happily ticking along” is a client who needs serious attention. Putting our top tips for the review season into practice may mean that you can put your feet up with a cup of tea and a mince pie after all.
Rebecca Scully is managing director at Smarts PR.