11 Client Mistakes that Agencies Make

At the PRSA Academy Counselors conference, Ann Gynn, CEO of Gay Games 9 and content marketing coach, gave a presentation titled “11 Client Mistakes that Agencies Make”. Having been on both sides of the table – as a client and as a PR agency professional – she highlighted common mistakes made by PR agencies, as well as suggested fixes for each misstep.

    1. Giving your client a weapon: Ms. Gynn once had an agency send her a knife as a gift.

Fix: Instead of delivering a giveaway that is not only odd but has nothing to do with the client relationship, deliver a welcome plan that details the client’s objectives, scope of work, timeline and deliverables. Trust that they want a solid plan to help their business, not a giveaway.

    1. Delivering adders that weren’t requested and not delivering assets that were. One example: a client hired a PR agency to obtain local media coverage. Instead, they received ample national media coverage, but not local as they wanted.

Fix: Create a scope of work with the client’s signature and stick to the plan. Update as needed or as the strategy changes, but always get the client’s permission.

    1. Waiting for the client to ask for updates.

Fix: Identify communication frequency based on the project timeline and client’s preferences. Your client should not have to ask for an update.

    1. Going public with the client’s news without permission.

Fix: PR 101 taught us all to never do this, yet it still happens frequently. Always get your client’s approval before announcing anything to news outlets, on social media, etc.

    1. Charging more or demanding bigger time commitments to get new staff up to speed.

Fix: Create an in-house knowledge bank for every client and every project. Getting your staff up to speed should not be the client’s responsibility.

    1. Sending poorly prepared staff to prospect presentations or client meetings.

Fix: Ensure that the staff you bring in is knowledgeable and comfortable speaking to prospects and clients. If you want to train staff members, then introduce them as such. It shows you are investing in your team, but not at the expense of the client or prospect.

    1. Submitting mediocre deliverables.

Fix: Review all deliverables to ensure they are good on their own and fit the client’s objectives.

    1. Continuing a project you realize won’t work.

Fix: Be honest if a project goal cannot be achieved or doesn’t make sense. Don’t be afraid to streamline or cancel projects as you see fit.

    1. Shutting down client ideas without listening.

Fix: Listen, pause and reflect. If you still don’t think the client’s suggestion is effective, explain why.

    1. Failing to understand why the agency was hired.

Fix: The agency’s services must contribute to the client’s success. If you are not doing this, you are not meeting their objectives.

    1. Failing to ask how things are going.

Fix: Ask probing questions about the relationship, e.g., what is the best part about us working together? What could be done better or differently? How is our work helping your business?

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