Five steps to becoming the best PR client you can be

He who holds the purse strings is not without responsibility.
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I’m a realist when it comes to the relationship between providers of public relations services and their clients. It’s easy to talk about partnerships, but when one party pays another party, it’s clear who’s in charge.

This is how it should be. It’s pretty much the way it works in life: You pay for a service, you have the upper hand. Goulet Communications provides a service to its clients. If the clients aren’t happy or decide that the value they are receiving is not worth the cost, they will move on from us.

Of course, he who holds the purse strings is not without responsibility. Just because I’m paying for a meal at a restaurant does not entitle me to be rude to the wait staff. I should be respectful and understand that I’m not the only customer with needs.

And so it goes with public relations clients. They have every right to expect top-notch customer service, innovative thinking and stellar execution. But this is not the end of their role. It can’t be.

The client that wants to get the most out of its PR efforts should:

1. Be active in planning: You know your business better than your agency ever will, so educate your PR practitioner and be active in brainstorming your strategy and tactics. In other words, don’t show up for a PR meeting with an empty notepad. Having an abundance of information is the secret to developing a great content marketing program.

2. Understand the importance of time and timing: Whether it’s writing a news release or blog post, pitching a story or developing a special event, everything takes time. Your PR agency should be nimble enough to accommodate unplanned opportunities, but most often the best course is to operate from a plan.

3. Communicate regularly: When your agency sends you an email with a series of questions, don’t answer with a simple yes or no. Communicating clearly and promptly will keep your PR plans in motion and on track. Give positive feedback, give negative feedback, but give feedback.

4. Have realistic expectations: Everyone loves home runs, but more than two-thirds of Babe Ruth’s career hits did not leave the ballpark. In the game of media relations, it’s not always possible to be on the front page of a newspaper or the lead-in to the 6 o’clock news. It is important to take a long-term view toward PR efforts, whether it’s media relations, community relations, a blog or other content marketing.

5. Recognize who’s on your side: You hired an agency for its expertise in public relations, so be open to being challenged and to having honest discussions about the best ways to tell your story. This is not a threat to your authority but rather an effort to give you the greatest potential to be heard.

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