Let’s talk about the “s word” that every public relations professional should add to his or her vocabulary — sales. Though it may seem like a dirty word for those on the creative side, sales are what keep a public relations agency running. Public relations work is a service bought by clients, and they want to get the best results for what they pay. While an agency can produce top-notch campaigns, its clients won’t be satisfied unless it can prove that the campaign met a goal or delivered value. Agencies are bound to fail without the ability to sell its services and turn clients into repeat customers. Successful agencies are able to perform well, show the value of their work and keep clients coming back for more.
Understand your client’s expectations.
Clients often seek public relations help because they already know what they want, and they need someone who can execute it. Having a conversation about your client’s goals should be the first step in beginning any project or campaign. Once you better understand what your client expects to accomplish, you can choose the strategies and tactics that will reach those goals. These may be different from what your client originally wanted, so be prepared to explain the benefits of the strategies you’ve chosen and to negotiate if necessary.
Always compare the client’s expectations to their proposed budget. You know the time, effort and resources that it will take to reach their goals, and if the budget is too small, you must propose alternative strategies and tactics. Never promise to deliver a finished product that exceeds your client’s budget.
Make everything measurable.
Clients want to see how your services benefited them. A client will return if you can prove that your public relations work helped them achieve a goal. The best way to do this is by analyzing data that tracks the improvements made throughout a project. Begin researching as much as possible to cater to the client’s end goals.
Showing that you can produce good results is the best way to sell your services to a client. When you can clearly explain the way that your work helped advance their goals, public relations services become a valuable necessity that they will purchase from you again and again.
Turn projects into campaigns.
Once a project is finished, your client should be sold on your talent and ability to help them. The next step is to keep them coming back by turning a project into a campaign. Working with your client to set goals, achieve them and then set new goals is the best way to repeat business and increase sales.
The most important thing to remember is that public relations is a business like any other. You must continue to search for new projects, new clients and ultimately new sales. In the end, help your clients to help yourself and your agency.
Bethany Corne is a junior majoring in public relations and marketing at the University of Alabama. She is the vice president of finance for the UA PRSSA, a digital strategist for the Capstone Agency and the communications manager for the UA EcoCAR 3 Team. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyyyC14, find her on LinkedIn or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.