How to Win a Public Relations Client’s Trust and Keep It
A peek behind the curtain of an NYC public relations firm.
You’ve gone through the request for proposal (RFP) process and landed the new client. Now what? Well, now it’s time to really put in the work if you’re a top public relations professional. You might have wowed them with your pitch meeting skills and ideas, but the next phase in the client/PR professional journey is the most difficult but rewarding one yet – building trust.
Just because the client signed on the dotted line does not mean they will be around forever. As with every meaningful relationship, you will need to work at it constantly. This means every touch point, from emails to PR strategies, and everything else in between, will need to showcase your PR expertise in such a way that allows the client to feel at ease with your direction.
Trust, in the simplest form, means the firm belief in the reliability of someone or something. When it comes to trust in the PR world, it means having clients believe in your PR campaigns and your ability to execute on them. If you’re still reading this post, you might be thinking, well, I already won the business, so what more do I need to do? That’s the exact mentality you want to avoid, not just in PR, but in life as well. If you perceive it as a fun challenge, fostering trust can be the building block to having a long and fruitful relationship with a client.
I’ve outlined only a few ideas you’ll want to consider right out of the gate, but when it comes to thinking about ways to build trust, the sky’s the limit!
You were transparent with the goals and deliverables during the pitching process. Now, it’s time to take all of those ideas and begin to bring them to life. Before you do, and this step sometimes overlooked, make sure your strategy is in place.
To start, conduct a deep-dive kickoff session to ensure both the client and the internal PR teams are working in lock-step. Then, work on a sound PR plan that will allow the client to view those ideas with clear and actionable steps attached to them. Include a timeline for achieving those set goals as well as how you plan to track progress along the way.
The plan is in place, your goals are set, and the client is onboard. It’s time to rock and roll. As you work through the execution phase of your mutually agreed upon plan, make sure to communicate and, in all honesty, overcommunicate.
When it comes to new client relationships, provide as many updates and as much relevant feedback as possible. You might have met your fair share of clients that don’t want to be bothered or could care less about how the sausage is made. To them I say I hear you, but also, you’re missing the best part of this two-way street.
The most rewarding client/PR professional relationships are ones that get fired up and excited on both sides. By having an open and communicative relationship, you’ll open the door to better collaboration opportunities and new, fresh ideas.
You are now a couple of months into your newfound relationship. You have a clear plan and have been communicating the wins and navigating the pivots along the way. Now more than ever, you need to look at each form of communication as an opportunity to show added value.
Is there a breaking news story that could be transformed into a timely thought leadership opportunity? Are there internal company shifts that your client needs help communicating? While it is essential to execute on the deliverables from the PR plan, your work should not stop there. You should strive to see opportunities for your clients and communicate them both timely and effectively. In time, your clients will trust that you have their interests at the forefront of your daily agenda.
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