Building Client Relationships Entails Respect, Trust, Counsel

In recent days, Matt and I gathered with some PR industry brethren for an informal evening of catching up and comparing notes, including on clients and the media. One individual relayed that, earlier that day, he had been ‘fired’ by a client via text mesage—the only communications avenue that particular client ever used!

I am often asked about my approach to clients and the best means by which to commuicate, day to day, while building a productive, professional relationship. The short answer is that every client is different and the PR professional has to quickly learn and adapt to what the client prefers. I have never been a fan of meetings for the sake of meeting when as much if not more can be accomplished by phone or email in a particular instance. I’ve experienced PR firms that love to pack several firm professionals into a client meeting merely to eat up hours. That said, there is nothing like in-person contact, when deemed necessary by both parties.

The real key, though, is mutual respect, understanding and trust. Everyone’s time, in particular in this day and age, is invaluable and every second must count as an effective means to a productive end. At the same time, two-way trust needs to be built on both sides of the equation. Here, setting reasonabe expectations and counseling clients appropriately is just as important in building long-term relationships. Over-promising or always being a “yes man” will forever be a recipe for disappointment and failure.

We are communications consultants with a responsibility to, while striving to meet client expectations, tell is like it is; in particular how media and marketing is changing at the speed of sound. And, if and when the time comes to part ways, this, too, should be handled with professionalism and aplomb (and, ideally, not via text).