Group Gordon’s Morgan Schare explains how to build trust and a solid foundation with a new client early on.
Today’s world requires us all to be prepared for the unexpected, and when the unexpected happens, you need to be able to rely on the team around you. That’s why it’s more important than ever to create a solid foundation with a new client from the get-go – one that’s built on mutual trust.
The public relations team can add value across an organization, including building brand awareness, spearheading launches and campaigns, leveraging social media platforms, or tackling a crisis, among other activities. But success and the ability to act at a moment’s notice will be difficult without a solid foundation. Building that trust can be done in a multitude of ways.
When working with a new client, it’s important to take a deep dive into the business to get a firm grasp of the internal structure of the company, as well as the mission and vision for the brand. This can be done by, first, conducting research into the company and the industry as a whole to see where the company fits into its peers and competitors in the media.
Additionally, interviews between the PR team and the client’s leadership team, as well as any other key stakeholders can reveal their priority goals for the business, as well as their perspectives on industry trends. Conducting these interviews will help to reinforce the role of the PR team with members of the organization who might not communicate with the PR team on a daily basis.
This process will also give the PR team the opportunity to identify the spokespeople within the organization, the key topic areas they would like to engage with as well as the target outlets that are important to the company – these components are all necessary to successfully reach the target audience. This information will also be critical when developing the communications plan at the close of the discovery process.
The research and discovery process will help the PR team to have a full understanding of the business goals of the company, but a critical next step is ensuring that the business goals and PR goals are aligned. By doing this, the company’s leadership team and key stakeholders will see the value of PR early on and grasp the ways in which PR will help the business grow.
The communications plan should be informed by the discovery findings and demonstrate to the client that the PR team has a solid understanding of the organization’s business goals. It should show how the PR activities align with and work to advance those goals. After presenting the plan, it’s important to show that the plan is sound by executing on the tactics and strategies that were presented and bringing results. Securing interviews with key reporters and media placements in target outlets will be critical for building and maintaining that solid foundation of trust.
While this might seem obvious, communicating openly and honestly with a new client is critical for a successful relationship. It can be challenging at times, but it will help to build trust early on. Open communication can take many forms, including keeping the client informed of what you’re working on during the day to day, but it can also mean being transparent about what is working well and what isn’t.
Additionally, it’s important to create communications processes that are feasible for both the PR firm and the client. What works well for one client won’t work well for every client. Setting a standard for the level of communication within the first few weeks of working together, and continuing to meet that standard, is a major component of building a successful partnership.
While building trust early on is critical, continuing to follow these steps throughout an engagement will maintain that level of trust and build long-term client-firm relationships.