Managing your clients’ public relations expectations is vital when directing a company’s PR department or a PR firm. You must determine and guide each client’s PR expectations.
You must clarify for each client
- What PR is and isn’t
- What public relations can and can’t do
- The benefits each PR program element you recommend will provide
- The difference between publicity fluff and PR substance.
By explaining the PR process along with PR’s benefits and limitations before you start working with a client, you’ll avoid huge misunderstandings and client dissatisfaction as the program unfolds.
Here are key points you and your client must agree upon regarding PR program expectations:
What does the client consider a successful PR program?
From the client’s point of view, achieving what goals or measurements will determine PR success? Does the client expect an effective public relations program to strengthen the company’s positive reputation in the community or, perhaps, among current and potential customers? Maybe the client wants you to establish the CEO’s reputation as a thought leader in the industry, solidify the company’s relationships with state and local legislators or bolster the company’s bottom line. What’s the timeframe?
You must agree on the definition of success in order to achieve it.
What PR strategies will enable you to achieve public relations success?
Numerous integrated elements — not a handful of glitzy events — power the engine that moves every successful public relations program forward.Achieving effective public relations means more than generating press clips and publicity.You know this, but does your client.You must explain the purpose and advantages of engaging resources such as news media, trade publications, the Internet and social networks to deliver consistent and compelling messages to targeted audiences.
What are your client’s media exposure expectations?
Before you launch a PR program, determine your client’s understanding of the media and his media exposure expectations. Does he expect regular placements in the New York Times, features in national business magazines or major talk show appearances? Are such hits possible and worthwhile? If not, explain why — right away. Clients often expect much more coverage than is realistic for their investment. And they often overestimate the benefits of certain types of media coverage.
What media outlets best suit your client’s PR goals?
Make sure your client understands why you’ve chosen certain media outlets to reach targeted audiences and how these outlets will generate desired results. Explain why it makes no sense to pursue outlets that won’t report on his company. A feature article in a trade publication could generate more sales and have a greater impact on a targeted audience than a brief mention in a business magazine. Clients may not like or understand this, so you must educate them. It’s all part of managing clients’ public relations expectations.