If you’re a PR practitioner (or in any client-facing role), you know what it means to be busy. Chances are you’re an expert multitasker and can juggle a number of projects without batting an eye. When things get really hectic, however, it’s easy to jump from one meeting to the next without gathering your thoughts or polishing your emails, but it’s vital that you take the time to fine tune how you communicate with your clients.
To get the most out of your client relationships, here are five questions you should ask yourself before every interaction:
1. What information are they seeking?
Ideally, no conversation you’re having with your clients should catch you off guard, and you should have a clear sense of what they’d like to achieve before you sit down to speak.
DO ensure that you’ve done your research, and have a full understanding of your clients’ expectations and goals.
DON’T scramble to pull cursory recommendations together on the fly; take the time to regroup with your team if necessary.
2. Where should the conversation take place?
Some discussions are easily had via email, while others might require a phone call or an in-person meeting.
DO consider what ground you’re hoping to cover and how many people need to be involved in the conversation.
DON’T exchange a dozen emails when it’s more efficient to pick up the phone and chat through an issue or idea.
3. What are they going to ask?
Anticipating your clients’ questions before they have the chance to ask them will allow you to draft emails, manage meetings, and provide guidance more effectively.
DO think about the topic from their perspective and prepare/share your thoughts in advance.
DON’T wait for them to prompt you; show them that you understand their needs and priorities by proactively flagging problems and solutions.
4. How do you feel about the decisions being made?
Though you may not always see eye-to-eye, the conversations you’re having with your clients should be collaborative.
DO be a trusted advisor by pushing back if you feel strongly about a different approach or if you believe there is more information that should be considered.
DON’T be belligerent, condescending or rude; both you and your clients bring different areas of expertise to the table, so everyone’s opinions should be respected.
5. What are the resulting next steps?
A lot of thoughts can be thrown around during a meeting or throughout an email thread, and it’s important to capture the all of the main points.
DO provide a written recap of activities within 24 hours of an important discussion and keep your clients’ preferred format in mind (i.e. email vs. memo vs. spreadsheet, etc.).
DON’T assume that everyone knows or will remember what they are expected to do next; a prompt is often helpful.
We communicate for a living, so have a ton of advice to share. Check out How to get reporters to actually read your pitches for our media relations best practices.
Daina Astwood-George is an Account Manager at APEX Public Relations who will happily communicate with you via Twitter.
We work with the best brands in the business. Check out our client list.