How To: Be a Great PR Firm Client

How To: Be a Great PR Firm Client

Your publicist is often your first line of defense.

You’ve enlisted them to protect your assets, your brand and ultimately your best interests. And while they may be able to handle all of those tasks, it is up to you to equip them with the necessary resources, information and space to do so.

You may not understand the lengths that your publicist goes to, to make things happen for you as s/he only presents you with the most polished end result(s) and opportunities. But please understand that it can get ugly behind the scenes when we’re working to negotiate press coverage or endorsements for you. To make sure that we’re on the same page, the lines of communication need to be open at all times because one misstep can cost us a vital relationship or opportunity that we’ve been nurturing just for you.

The best client-agency partnerships are collaborative ones. The kind where we respect each others’ expertise and watch in awe as the two come together to create magic.

But before we can get to the magic, we have to learn how to work together. And you have to learn how to help me, help you.

Let’s count the ways.

1. Inform your publicist about new projects early.

There’s nothing worse than being handed a white paper or a new mixtape on a Monday afternoon and being told that it’s being released the next morning. The key to getting great press is to be proactive so that there’s enough lead time to shape and cultivate story angles for media placements and identify relevant brand extension opportunities. When you shorten the lead time that your rep has to promote your product or service, you may also be shortening the list of post-campaign results/accomplishments.

2. Be super honest about your budget.

In the past, I’ve had clients who were strapped for cash and couldn’t deliver for a project. But instead of being honest about their financial woes, they attempted to nickle and dime vendors to the point of disrespect. Presenting budget concerns early allows your publicist to come up with a viable alternative plan or gives them enough time to reach out to prospective sponsors.  But, when you’re not honest about the budget, a lot of time and energy is wasted pursuing something that won’t ever see the light of day. Be honest. Don’t waste y(our) time.

3. Follow advice/recommendations.

Nobody wins, when you ignore PR advice and we have to say “I told you so…” If you have concerns about the advice or recommendations that you’ve been given, you need to work with your agency to find a happy medium. Simply ignoring the advice is never a good move and could lead to your being fired by your firm. Because, if you’re not going to listen, then there’s just no point.

4. Always ask questions.

If you don’t understand why something was or wasn’t done, please ask. You can never ask enough questions when it comes to your brand. It’s our job to respond accordingly.

5. Be patient.

When Oprah was still on the air, everybody wanted to be on her show. It could take YEARS for a well-known brand to get even the slightest mention, but once they did, everything was golden. Most of these brands or individuals had to trust that their publicist or PR firm was working diligently on their behalf to make things happen. Nowadays, everybody wants to be on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, or sipping tea with the ladies of The View, but you have to understand that these things don’t (always) happen overnight. If you find a good publicist or firm, stick with them.

6. Explain sensitivities up front.

If you have concerns about something, be sure to address them immediately. For example, I was recently working with a client on story angles and we settled on a few of them. One of the angles we pitched got on the radar of a few journalists, but once my client saw the questions, she was a bit worried about how the story might be positioned. Instead of telling the reporter that we were backing out, we put our heads together to make sure that she wouldn’t have to talk about a particularly touchy subject. Had I not had an understanding of what her sensitivities were, we would not have been able to save that story.

7. Be reliable.

All we have in life is our word, and when we promise that our client is going to be somewhere or do something, PLEASE DO IT! If you don’t, we’re the ones that have to work to patch up these relationships. And when it’s all said and done, people remember us because we were on the front lines. So it’s usually our reputation that gets tarnished, not yours.

8. Never lie.

Seriously, if you tell your publicist a lie, that is then communicated to the public. It’s a wrap. You’re fired.

9. Be great.

When you are excelling at your craft, you make our jobs much easier.

10. Have our back.

As your publicist, we are concerned about your image and well-being 24/7. And really, at the end of the day all we ask is that you have our back too.