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The Horror: 7 Scary Things Clients Say to Agencies

scary things clients say

Want to give a PR pro nightmares?

In honor of Halloween, here are seven of the scariest things we hear from clients and prospects.

“The intern runs our social media.”

Although young people are often familiar with social media platforms from personal use, they usually aren’t brand experts. One inappropriate post can haunt a company’s reputation forever. Make sure there is a training process and someone experienced approving content if interns have access to social media accounts.

(And remember: A true pro will know all the tricks to delivering a high return on investment.)

“We don’t have Google Analytics.”

Google offers a free tool to track website traffic. It’s an effective way to peek behind the mask and measure the impact of advertisements, messaging and other tactics to raise brand awareness or sell a product. Analytics tools, combined with experienced interpretation, help brands determine what’s working, what’s not and how to adjust.

“We told the reporter ‘no comment.'”

Candor’s philosophy is to be honest and transparent with the media. Having nothing to say implies an organization has a skeleton in the closet. “No comment” robs an organization of the opportunity to provide context, especially on potentially damaging stories. It is better to be forthcoming and tell reporters when more information or answers will be available.

“I don’t know… could you just jazz it up a little?”

It’s part of a PR firm’s job to use its expertise to make things “pop.” But professional communicators need to fully understand the client’s goals and audience to create exceptional materials. They need partners who provide input and offer descriptive feedback; they aren’t gypsy mind readers.

“We’ll just print that in-house.”

Everyone wants to save money. But do-it-yourself printing can mean wasting staff time or sacrificing quality. Office printers don’t deliver true color, proper margins or full-bleed printing that really make a piece look professional. If you must print in-house, make sure the graphic designer is aware so she can design it accordingly.

“We want this story on the front page of the Sunday paper.”

Scaring up exceptional placement is always the goal when pitching stories. However, not every story meets the criteria for banner treatment, and reporters rarely determine where their work runs. When clients help us dig up a story that appeals to a news outlet’s audience, it increases the chances of getting on the cover.

“What have you done for me lately?”

If you hand out king-size Snickers bars one year for trick or treat and raisins the next, you’re going to end up with something unpleasant on your doorstep. That’s why PR pros always look for ways to deliver more to clients. We focus on providing sweet metrics – such as website traffic, media hits, video views, sales conversions, etc. – to demonstrate the value of our work. We survey consumers to understand how they feel about brands. And, especially at Candor, we try to look around the corner and suggest new ways our clients can reach their business and marketing goals.

Selling up the Chain of Command

 

Sometimes the most important sale to be made is within our own organization.

For example, we all have ambition. Some of us ambition to be recognized, others to be paid more. Some ambition to advance a cause, others to keep their job. But few achieve their ambitions in isolation. We need to persuade others we are worthy of their support. And persuasion – like it or not – is selling.

Most frequently, those in the best position to support us are in our upstream chain of command. So learning how to sell to our boss, or their boss, is critical to achieving our ambitions.

Here are a few tips fresh from the sales bullpen you may want to consider applying to your upstream communications.

  1. Sell as you go

Unfortunately, it’s often not enough simply do great work, assuming others will notice and appreciate it. Reputation is like a campfire. It needs to be regularly stoked or it will gradually turn as cold as ash. [bctt tweet=”Reputation is like a campfire. It needs to be regularly stoked.” username=”candorpr”] In communicating with upstream executives or board members, reinforce the value of your work relative to what is important to them. As sales trainers say, “Sell benefit, sell benefit, sell benefit.”

  1. Think like they think

As a dad, I had to teach my kids how to buy a gift for their mom she would appreciate, as opposed to gifts of interest to them. It’s not much different in business. Whether delivering a strategic plan, a business case, a status report, a presentation or just an idea, know what is important to the audience with whom you are communicating. Gift wrap your information in a manner they will appreciate and appreciation will be returned.

  1. Speak with candor

Don’t be a “yes” person. Executives cannot trust someone who only says what they believe another wants to hear. Instead, be straightforward, authentic and tactful in all communication.

  1. Anticipate objections

A mistake of many persuaders is the failure to anticipate objections. I have seen many great ideas shot down because the presenter was unprepared to answer an unexpected question. As a part of your communication prep, take time to anticipate objections and formulate your response to each.

  1. Understand it’s always about numbers

Don’t be fooled. The pool of funds available for any endeavor is limited. Every person in your chain of command has numbers for which they are responsible to monitor and achieve.  So don’t just report activity or progress upstream, also report results – how your activity has measurably moved the proverbial needle. Tie what you do to the numbers valued by those in charge.

Several years ago, I provided an update to my boss. The project had come in over budget, but we had exceeded client expectations. Expecting a pat on the back, I was surprised instead to be criticized for the overruns. His words were, “Excellent work in our company is expected. You still have to bring the work in on budget.” That was the last time I took upstream communication for granted.

Stoke the fire. Regularly.