Don’t you hate it when clients don’t give feedback—or, worse, go radio silent on you? I love feedback, even if it’s negative. The key to client loyalty is satisfaction (on their end), so knowing what they love or hate gets you one step closer to that point. Here are some questions to keep the lines of communication open with your client: How am I doing? If you get a one-word answer, positive or negative, push for more input. Ask him or her to elaborate in the areas of account management, writing, or media results (whatever is most relevant to the account). Find out whether the flow of the working relationship is as good as it seems to you and whether there are improvements you should make. I recently had a client who was very unresponsive, so I became concerned. I set aside 10 minutes to talk (knowing how busy she is) and told her I was concerned that I hadn’t heard from her. She assured me everything was going great and that if she didn’t respond, it meant that all is well, she didn’t have anything to add, and to move ahead with the initiative. This was a simple, yet crucial element to know about a new client. So, lesson learned: Start the dialogue, be upfront, and get to know how they feel about you and how your client works. What can I do better? Ask how you can improve and help them. This can lead to a discussion about communication, pitching, responsiveness, your account team, results, and much more. These are all elements that make up a good or bad working relationship, but a lot of clients would rather move on to another PR firm/consultant than confront the current one with negativity. If you approach these topics early on in a delicate, professional, and non-confrontational manner, odds are good that any issues can be resolved. Your client will respect you for asking rather than simply assuming you are doing a great job, oblivious to how they feel. How have the media results affected your business? For PR pros, it’s easy to get lost in the fog of press releases, pitching, and keeping up with industry news. Think about why you do what you do, and why your clients have hired you or your agency in the first place. They have business goals, and one way to achieve those goals is through PR. If you do not know those goals, ask for them. When executing your PR plan/strategy or campaign, always be reminded of the objective. Is it to drive attendance, sales, or overall revenue; to support marketing messages or brand awareness; or all the above? Asking your client how the media results have affected their business will give you clear direction on whether you are making a difference. If it’s not much, look for another client, because this one won’t be with you much longer.
Only you know the best time to ask these kinds of questions, but understand that it’s never too late. Keep these questions in mind for your next client conference call or strategic discussion. It will pay off in the end. Lacey Trejo is a PR consultant and owner of Lacey Trejo Public Relations (LTPR). She has nearly 10 years of industry experience, having spent most of her career at boutique agencies in and around Los Angeles. She specializes in account management and media relations. Contact Lacey by email or connect with her on Twitter