What makes a good PR client?

The best PR clients manage their outsize expectations and resist their impulses to DIY. If you want stronger relationships with your PR agency or your PR client, heed this advice.

Public relations is a two-way street.

That notion comes from clients and agencies working hand-in-hand to achieve a goal which draws them both in the desired direction.

So why does PR sometimes feel like a detour-filled highway-construction site? To a PR agency, clients are our biggest asset—and our biggest challenge.

Working with a good client makes a PR practitioner’s job easier, more satisfying. What makes a good PR client? This:

1. The good client manages its expectations.

Asking to be featured only in specific, very popular publications may not happen right away. That publication may not circulate as often as the client would like. The client must understand and trust that its agency’s pros know what they are doing, and are doing their best to reach the client’s goals. 2. The superior client listens well. Just as they must communicate clearly to their agency, a client must also know when it’s time to sit in the passenger seat and listen. The agency execs are the pros. When the pros are done listening, they encourage questions. Questions lead to conversations that lead to answers. Both parties benefit.

How do we agencies communicate to our clients the behavior we expect from them without being heavy-handed? We aim to motivate, inspire, and uplift through the entire project. How do we maintain this attitude while satisfying and inspiring the client?

3. The client communicates strategically.

If a client does not tell its agency how it feels about something, the agency cannot be blamed if the client is upset with the outcome. Clients must acknowledge the benefits of constant communication. Agency execs always appreciate it.

Having worked with a non-communicative client, one sees the value of a client who communicates its needs to its agency. There’s nothing wrong with a client who says what it wants to see come out of its relationship with its agency. Candor will give the agency a better idea of how it can help its client. Every client has different needs.

4. A good client relies on the chemistry of trust. A sound relationship breeds trust. Clients must trust their hired agency to do its best. Trust must exist on both the agency and the client sides to foster profitable relations.

Agencies look at clients not just as an entity they work for, but as people to build trust with to reach common goals. Trust is earned by both. FREE DOWNLOAD: Time management and Productivity: A Guide for Corporate Communicators.

The relationship between the client and the agency should never feel strained. Agencies do not require detailed management, no matter how much a client wants to micro-manage. A good client recognizes that not every PR agency is right for them and will take the time to seek the right match, even if it takes more time.

In his thought piece The Good (PR) Client, Len Stein of Visibility PR states:

The client must embrace the agency as an extension of its marketing team with a willingness to collaborate and work as a team. If a client thinks they can outsource their PR and social media without offering much input, you’re looking at an agency-client relationship that is doomed from the outset.

That’s what makes or breaks a good PR client. A client will get out of a PR agency what it puts into it, like most business relationships.

Marketing PR is more than just firing off emails to a large press list to get a client published. It’s about business development and making lasting connections in the client’s industry. It’s about reliable contacts and growing profitability.

It’s taking time to understand the client’s mission and what audience is best for its content. Business development is an integral part of marketing PR. Clients must understand that time and patience are the keys.

Above all, a good PR client participates fully in its relationship with its agency, building the two-way street on which PR runs smoothly.

Joan Daly is a junior account executive at Gotham PR, which has clients in 25 cities globally.

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