It’s inevitable. No matter how long you have been in the industry, how great your track record is in scoring amazing placements, there will always be clients who get cold feet and begin to question whether they have made the right choice in having you represent them. Client hesitation can present some major hurdles, so we’ve rounded up 5 things you can do to cope with clients who are on the fence about continuing the relationship.
1. Reset Expectations
Our agency has a strong policy of being completely honest with clients about what PR is and what we can do for them. Part of our elevator speech when onboarding clients includes letting them know that there are no guarantees of placement in PR and that it will take time for us to get results. so there is a certain level of trust they must have in us, particularly in the beginning that we are working diligently toward obtaining results. By managing expectations before the client engages our agency, we are able to remind them of this disclaimer when they start to get cold feet and then demonstrate the pro-active steps taken toward getting them results. We also work to establish trust in other ways, particularly, through consistent communication and tracking to demonstrate that we are working diligently toward obtaining results. By managing expectations before the client engages our agency, we are able to remind them of this disclaimer when they start to get cold feet and then demonstrate the pro-active steps taken toward getting them results.
It’s worth having this conversation more than once, however. A client who is waffling about moving forward needs to be reminded about how PR works, and there may need to be some renegotiation on process and expectations.
2. Secure a Quick Media Hit
When you think your client is starting to get nervous, turn to the outlets that you’ve come to rely on for quick placements. Even a small media hit can give boost morale and keep your client satisfied while you continue to work on the bigger stories.
3. Lay it all on the line
You’ve been hired for your communication skills and knowledge of how the media industry works. If you are struggling to secure results because of poor photography, an out-of-season or off-trend product or simply operating in a highly-saturated market, it’s time to make sure that your concerns and limitations are documented and well-known by your client. If you haven’t secured a placement but have received feedback from an editor, make sure to share those insights with your client.
Perhaps it’s time to work on some new messaging or branding, or to “create news” by doing something newsworthy. Remember that you’re the expert and ultimately your client needs your perspective and tough love in order to make both of your lives easier and business boom.
4. Re-establish the Relationship
While digital and mobile communication is easy, clients who step away often feel neglected or simply not a top priority. When you sense or learn that a client is questioning if your the best fit it’s time to put in some serious face time. Set up a lunch to have a transparent conversation around their concerns. Discuss the current strategy and be willing to make tweaks – sometimes priorities change or your client is feeling pressure from her higher-ups that is adding to the stress. Emotion and empathy are not always conveyed well via email. by allowing the client to hear your voice and see how invested you are in their success, you can assuage many fears and even strengthen the relationship.
5. Demonstrate Progress You’ve Made
Clients can have a very short memory when it comes to press placements. They forget about the national print placement you secured a month ago or the morning show segment that featured a 30-second plug for their brand. It can be helpful to remind them of the recent progress made and reiterate what is currently in the pipeline. For some clients, putting press coverage alongside concrete ad equivalency numbers can help clarify the value and affordability of public relations.
When clients get cold feet, it is important to put yourself in their shoes and take proactive steps to warm them up again. Most of the time, the fear stems from a concern that their limited marketing dollars are not reaping rewards and it is your job to show them the value for dollars spent. These 5 tips can help you talk them off the proverbial ledge and get the relationship back on track.