PR veteran Arthur Solomon’s recent post about challenging basic public relations “rules” and other industry tenets really struck a chord with me.
The most insightful point may have been this one: “Good work is not a sure way of receiving client approval. The best way to ensure a good review is to make the client look good.”
That’s insightful, because doing good work and making the client look good are both desirable, but they are not necessarily one and the same. Here’s my best advice for achieving one through the other.
Don’t be selfish. Selfish thinking is really short-term thinking. Agency professionals are trained to expand accounts and always have an eye out for additional assignments within the company. That’s natural, but there are times when the obligation to offer honest counsel may conflict with the agency goals of growth and profitability. A good long-term rule is to ask yourself what is truly best for the client. Nine times out of 10, that’s also what’s best for the long-term agency relationship.
Solve problems. There are almost always pain points that fall outside the agency’s scope of work. Offering solutions, particularly when they relate to navigating corporate politics or enhancing the stature of corporate communications within the organization, are natural ways to get your client promoted. Isn’t that every PR person’s goal?
Don’t be a yes-person. No client worth his mettle wants an order-taker. The client’s role—and, by extension, ours—is to help the organization engage key constituencies and enable management to make smart decisions, not drink the corporate Kool-Aid.
Represent the client well within the organization. Every agency pro knows to be respectful of our client contact when engaging throughout the company, but we can go further and act as ambassadors for the internal communications department as a strategic business function.