Written by Yana Udalova
I have been working as a PR specialist for more than 8 years and during this time I have worked with the world’s leading lifestyle brands (IKEA, Hasbro, One&Only, Colgate-Palmolive, to name a few). Over these years I have learned some key lessons on how to succeed in the PR and communications field and how to build strong professional relationships with my clients. Here are my top tips for you:
1.First of all, be organized.
International companies work with several markets/countries at the same time, especially if your contact is at the company’s global office. That is why it is necessary to use the working time of the client as efficiently as you can. In some cases, it can be easier for you to learn the tech tools and communications systems your client already has in place, rather than trying to get them to learn new video, productivity, etc. apps for your agency. There are a few tools that I have found people are globally familiar with. For example, Smartsheets is a great option to share progress and keep the client updated. I also recommend arranging regular Skype calls (once a week- and keep them short and sweet!) with the team to discuss current actions, questions or to share the status of the project. Prepare an agenda document with key points and send it to all team members at least a day before the call.
For large lifestyle brands (honestly any brand for that matter), one of the marketing goals should be to stand out from their competitors. The specialists and teams who can think in an innovative and creative way are especially valued. The same is true for companies that traditionally have been more conservative in communications and PR than others.
3. Consulting with the client is key.
The clients want to be advised, directed and given recommendations by their publicist; they are looking for experts, not just professionals. Be sure to show your expertise, briefly share the latest news and trends of your market, send analytics and research that makes sense for the client. It is important for your client to be confident that no one knows the media market better than you, so try to educate the client (in a gentle way), especially if you are not supervised by a PR-rep from the client’s side ( Sales or brand managers are not so deep into the subject). This will save you from back-and-forth explaining your actions and motives down the line.
4.Help the client create the news.
People assume that large companies always have a lot of news to share, and a PR-consultant serves to just pitch these award-winning ideas to the press. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Most big brands expect PR specialists to take the initiative and recommend business-oriented tools to create engaging content to be covered in publications i.e.- make news for them!
For example, if your client is a resort, create a programming idea for the guests, that also can be promoted in the local media. Try to think not only about what piece of news can be interesting for the journalist/ lifestyle media, but something that can generate revenue for your client as well. Win-win.
5.Stay in touch with other departments.
It’s not always possible for the client to coordinate the communication between different departments or agencies/teams (you’re there to help them, not give them another supervisory position!), so you will be an irreplaceable partner if you take the initiative and work together with other departments (social media team, sales-managers, event-managers, and others). Be a leader and try to organize the working process of different teams (share news and updates, coordinate your plans, meetings) and speak with one voice.
6.Take an individual approach with every client.
This should go without saying, but if your clients cover a large span of sectors (lifestyle/real-estate, hospitality, etc.) and you’re taking a similar approach for every brand in one sector- don’t! Each business expects an individual approach (and that’s what will bring you the most success!). Before collaborating with a brand, study the company, its history, business results, future goals, plans, expectations from PR activities and as many details as possible. All of this should be taken into account in your work.
7.Diversify your PR strategy.
Don’t hesitate to add different marketing tools to your PR strategy in order to give the client a choice. In addition to media strategy, a partnership is a good idea to raise brand awareness. Remember that influencers work, (yes, STILL) include them in your plan. The main thing in both cases is to choose the right partners. I also recommend including awards, marketing events, and even special projects with the media in your PR plan (this is also a great way to try and increase your retainer!).
Yana Udalova is a PR consultant with 10 years of working experience. She has delivered PR campaigns for One&Only resorts, IKEA, Colgate-Palmolive and other international companies. Together with the Wild Buro agency team, she provides PR communications and social media services for lifestyle brands in Russia. The creative and effective Wild Buro team is specialized in media and influencer relations, as well as content creation and event management.