As the economy continues to plummet and unemployment reaches a 25-year high, many of us are thankful to be engaged in good, honest work. Standards have also skyrocketed. Beyond checking in for the 9 to 5, we are required to be more efficient, persuasive and successful at meeting our goals. Our livelihoods depend on our ability to adapt quickly to rising expectations.
The increased pressure of cubicle life extends even more forcefully to your clients. Now more than ever before, companies shelling out the big bucks for PR expect not just results, but a tangible passion from their PR team. The savviest companies realize they’re not just paying a vendor – they’re enlisting a trained team of enthusiastic advocates that can get behind their product and authentically champion their brand to mainstream press, bloggers or their consumer base.
Time is limited, and a prized resource in these troubling times. But a few small investments of time can establish a solid relationship with your client that should weather you through the storms.
1. Know the business. Spend some quality time getting to know your client’s product. Pretend you’re the end user and you have to decide if this product is worth your energy. Are you excited about the product? Feeling just “meh” about it? Let your client know. He or she will appreciate your investment in their product and your knowledge of their core business will make you a valued asset in the development and promotion process.
2. Look for the competitive edge. Do some industry reading. How does the competition stack up to your client? Are there strengths the client has that you can capitalize on? Weaknesses that need addressing? Become an expert on your client’s space and look out for how you can leverage the competitive advantage.
3. Don’t be a “yes” man. If you have doubts about a proposed strategy, say so. Speak up. Start a productive dialogue. Demonstrate that you have the client’s best interests at heart, and provide compelling reasoning to prove it. You’re not being paid to affirm the client’s ideas about PR. They are paying you for your expertise. Make it clear that you are ardently thinking about the future of their business and advocating the most effective strategy for promoting it.
4. Imagine you’re the boss. What if you were running your client’s company? Think of what fears, hopes and dreams would overtake your mental energy. What would keep you up at night? Your client will usually share these answers with you, but putting yourself in their shoes provides a more colorful picture of reality. Work on anticipating those thoughts and thinking from the bigger picture perspective as a business owner.
5. Be an advocate even when you’re “off the clock.” We’re often required to attend networking events after hours to build contacts and rub elbows with new and different people. Do you have your 10 to 30-second elevator pitch at the ready? You never know when you might need to advocate your client at the appropriate moment to a relevant person.
Your client is pouring their heart and soul into their company. If you commit to mirroring that passion in the work you execute on their behalf, they will appreciate your efforts (and continue to keep you employed!).