The biggest challenge for any PR consultancy is the ability to retain clientele, even after strong media deliverance.
There is no dearth of PR firms in our country and PR professionals are always busy creating media plans, writing releases and/or networking with media houses to find a visible spot for their clients. The PR machinery works 24 x 7 x 365 building opportunities, with their client positioning skills on the top gear. A normal day for any PR consultancy.
So why is the consultancy review [monthly/quarterly/ annual] not in favour of the consultancy?
There are many reasons that one can associate the humiliation of being on the receiving end even after sleepless nights of planning, positioning and creating opportunities for media brand communications.
Amongst the many reasons, the top five that have created firm-client frictions are:
Not setting realistic expectations:
Most firms in a bid to acquire clients agree to unrealistic goals and build huge (unachievable) expectations for the clients which, in due course, reflect in unattained media deliverance. The process builds frustration, due to non deliverance of promises, and increases lack of trust on the consultancy performance resulting in long term resentment and, eventually, business loss.
Be honest. Be realistic. Any over the top promises will be short lived and will only result in de-valuing consultancy reputation.
More focus on media platforms than client’s business:
PR professionals are not only media consultants. They are also brand consultants. Consultants who have the responsibility to advice businesses in their media-brand representation journey.
The prime focus for any PR professional should be first to study the client’s business requirements, competition landscape, audience profile, required current outcome, planned brand positioning and, then, focussing on audience based media platforms.
The media mix is the last point to ponder on.
Effective media platforms
This is not a numbers game. Providing heaps of coverage that does not connect business interest with its right audience is a practice that needs to be discouraged by firms.
Choosing the right media for the right ‘business–audience’ connect is imperative. Meaningful media positioning should provide clients with some form of conversion, either on brand reputation or, in certain cases, sales.
The media platforms have to supports client’s present requirements with a clear understanding of his future ambitions and also, how what is reported today impacts the client’s business in the long term. Loose conversations should be avoided. Every PR professional should bear this mantra in his mind.
Wrong competition assessment
One shoe does not fit all and this is very apt to understand for making clients realise this truth.
Any two brands in the same segment differ hugely in terms of business size, geographical reach, investments, resources and future plans amongst other business attributes. A comparison of one business house with another similar segment business that did not make the same media space as the other cannot be an apple to apple comparison. The news angle can differ, news can be topical and there are certain publication benchmarks/requirements, but since it’s on a reputed platform, many bizarre requests hound consultancies to position without a cause or effective communication piece. Explain it to the client. Make them realise the communication objective, need and communication space. Experienced PR Managers will be able to understand these nuances.
Also, for new clients seeking instant gratification, inform them that it takes time to build opportunities, position the brand and the spokesperson. Every media house functions differently and opportunities are created over a planned period of time. Patience is a virtue.
Improper media training
PR is one of the toughest jobs as it requires high level of business knowledge (client’s business), strong oratory & convincing skills and relentless hours of following with media houses for media placement. Many fail in this. Many work as postman, relaying information from media to clients and vice versa. And very few are truly driven to build a career in this.
Firms are to be blamed for this. In a bid to save cost and improve profit margins, the consultancy hiring has seen unrelated candidates without any PR educational background or professional training managing accounts or interacting with media professionals trying hard, mostly relying on luck, to create opportunities for their clients.
Very few firms have a proper induction programme and media training for new candidates who have unrelated experience. This should be a community norm. And every trained and informed professional will be effectively able to contribute positively to the overall PR community.
Losing an account reflects negatively on any consultancy but, at times, it’s more profitable to say ‘No’ to an unreasonable expectation than agree to an unattainable probability.
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