October 13th, 2016 –This piece was contributed by Courtney Lukitsch, founder and principal at Gotham PR in New York and London, with clients in 25 cities globally.
It represents Gotham Public Relations ongoing published series of articles focused on Client and Agency-side challenges and evolving solutions inside the global workplace.
The prophetic writer Maya Angelou says “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This wise insight, when applied to the world of PR, experiential and digital marketing, sales and ongoing business development, lends credence to the fact that emotional intelligence and keen understanding of the client and customer will always win.
Gotham PR has recently published widely on the topic of EQ, emotional agility and the ability in marketing parlance to ‘read a room’ within a business context.
Clients will always recall the experience of whether expectations were met, their timelines respected and their goals achieved. As INC.com suggests, managing expectations continues to be one of the most underrated and underutilized skills there is, however if done properly can be one of the most advantageous.
It is the job of the seasoned strategist to create a roadmap of weekly and monthly goals, to report progress and to manage what is feasible based on a strategic and creative relationship in tandem with the client.
Shoot straight, no one has time for sugar coating, and both the Client and Agency Team respects rolling up their sleeves and getting down to actual business.
If the client is accustomed to binary ways of communicating, the agency presenting very lateral concepts might not hit a bulls-eye in terms of style or substance.
Assessing a cultural fit in tandem with an agreed upon set of goals within a fixed timeline helps to manage expectations on a regular basis.
Never assume, instead guarantee through these critical assets that the Client-Agency relationship is healthy. If anything, over communicate these ideas until they are embraced at the C-level. Fostering this open communication channel is essential to the success of the client / agency relationship. Interestingly enough, according to a poll conducted by PR Daily, the number one issue that faces modern PR Pros is in fact, managing client expectations. Thus, through accurate communication comes proper expectation management.
Achieving a Clients buy-in to a collaborative working style is key from the start, with a point person or brain trust committed tasked with meeting agency expectations for visual, strategic and creative collateral upfront. Wired brilliantly highlights the vitality of managing these client expectations upfront, largely through showing them that you care and are indubitably committed to implementation of their goals. In other words, work to accurately create a shared vision and understanding so that there is never a discrepancy in what both parties believe is being executed.
If mistakes or miscommunications occur, it is the Agency’s job to rectify, as well as to anticipate that they not occur in the first place.
In terms of timelines, realistic parameters about what can and cannot be achieved in terms of press, new business and measuring success are essential to a viable, ongoing partnership between Client and Agency.
It’s important not to coddle but to set healthy boundaries between each set of deliverables. Finish an agreed upon big goal then move onto the next.
When working multilayered Marketing PR programs, maintain a checklist that both teams adhere to and sign off to achieve daily and weekly success. As Hubspot wisely advises, there should be a detailed outline of all projects, giving the client a tangible framework of outputs and timelines throughout the process.
Managing up and holding a Client to deadlines helps to ensure success by the Agency to reach monthly, quarterly and annual results that drive not only awareness but also profits. Forbes alludes to an inevitable truth within the world of PR. Reputation is everything. The need for consistently positive relationships should never be undermined because the impressions made today, determines future relationships. Here’s to launching successful new campaigns into 2017 with expectation management at the forefront.