Managing clients well, building relationships and trust, is a much sought after skill in all aspects of marketing, be it public relations, advertising, event management or any other. Understanding how to best communicate, act as a client’s ambassador, use language and behave responsively in a way that your client appreciates, are all key to success.
The PRCA “Client Management” course allows PR professionals to learn and practice some of these skills, recognise their own weaknesses and strengths, learn new skills and have the chance to discuss any particular challenges, including handling demanding clients or how best to juggle priorities and yet remain positive.
The early part of the day concentrates on how client’s needs and our behaviours have had to adapt to more wfh and the fact that most interaction with clients is now via Teams rather than in person. The emphasis now is more on conducting virtual meetings, on writing appropriate (informed but friendly) emails, on getting to know someone long-distance rather than on face-to-face meetings as before. This creates new opportunities but also new threats – how do you create good client rapport, how much can you push for opportunities to meet in person, what can you do to ensure that you provide appropriate client service?
Good client management is in part a “learned” skill. New trainees and junior account executives now may have less opportunity to learn from good client-facing “role models” in the office, so giving the “newbies” the chance to attend meetings or trade shows or any opportunity to come face to face with their clients is important. As seniors in the agency, enabling others to learn from you, watch your behaviours (friendly but formal, nodding, smiling, leaning forward, using your hands expressively, throwing in useful extra information, – all behaviours appreciated by our clients), will be vital to help train those that follow. They need to hear you on the phone or in person negotiating on costs, holding your line (not being a pushover) yet maintaining your charm, all good client handling skills, and to learn from you. Your role as a trainer in good client management should not be underestimated. Sending them on a client management course helps – but you are the linchpin in their training.