Client Relations: The Importance of Working as Partners, Not Vendors

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Michiko Morales

A major part of our job as tech PR practitioners is knowing our clients’ businesses and products inside and out. The time we put in learning about our clients often leads to true friendships. You can’t spend long days (and the occasional night) working with people without forming a bond with them.

At least that’s how we prefer to operate. Taking our clients’ businesses to the next level through positive media exposure and creative strategy plans means a little more to us when we form mutually beneficial partnerships. We work closely with one another, through the good times and the bad. Our clients are assured that we have their best interests in mind, so much so we’re often considered part of the company.

In honor of the upcoming International Day of Friendship, let’s take a look at some of the best practices to ensure that you’re working as partners with clients, not holding them at arms’ length.

Every Client is Important

Treat every client like royalty. Remember the Golden Rule – “Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.” Keeping this ideal in mind will help you develop and maintain strong relationships with your clients. No matter how small the request, go the extra mile to make sure your clients have all the information they need and that they receive it in a timely fashion.

Why? Well, there’s the commitment to providing exceptional service. But keep in mind that happy, satisfied clients also make referrals to friends and fellow entrepreneurs for potential new business opportunities. Word-of-mouth still goes a long way with a lot of people.

Be More Than a Name on a Contact Sheet

In this digital age, a majority of your interactions with clients tends to be via email. Because of this, it’s important to add a human element to your communications. Striking a balance of getting to know the client personally AND professionally is a great way to maintain the partnership. Whether you follow them on Twitter or ask non-intrusive personal questions – get to know them! Don’t be afraid to show an interest in their personal lives, but be mindful of prying too deeply. This cannot only help form a true friendship between an account team and the client, it actually provides some fodder for story ideas and pitches.

When a PR firm knows potentially interesting tidbits about the client – like a craft brewing hobby or kite boarding passion, this information helps us build better stories about how awesome our clients are.

It’s difficult to picture busy entrepreneurs being anything but driven innovators, but knowing them better helps personalize their business and ignite a passion among the team to see them succeed. While the goal remains to get coverage for our clients and their products and services, we often get placements for personal interest pieces like hobbies that we wouldn’t have known had we not forged friendships that extended beyond meetings and emails.

Address Problems Directly

Remember – this is a professional relationship above all else. If there is a problem, work together to fix it. Strong families work out their problems – the same can be said about a strong business partnership. Basically, just be straightforward with your clients. If the partnership is a strong one, they will respect your opinion; after all, that’s what they pay you for!

Much like our families in our personal lives, clients are the most important things in our professional lives. Without them, we wouldn’t have a business at all.

From the Blog

Leah Nurik