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Building Better Client Bonds


What makes a happy PR person?  A great work environment, team mates with similar values, strong leadership, healthy reward package, work life balance…all of these are really important  but missing in the mix is ‘good’ client relationships.

Whether you’re freelance, working in an agency or in-house reporting into a Board, your ‘client’ relationship can be the difference between really enjoying your job or starting each day with a sense of trepidation. 

Many of us have experienced a ‘bad’ client relationship and the direct impact this can have on a team’s morale, confidence, passion and, ultimately, ability to deliver. And I think I can confidently surmise it wasn’t either parties’ intention at the start to end up here.  

Firstly, defining client relationships as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ just doesn’t cut the mustard as we have to accept the role we play in the mix. There are so many aspects to the development of a healthy client partnership and both parties have responsibility for the creation of the relationship and maintaining its health.

Secondly, throw into the mix the added complexity that client and PR relationships are rarely just two people, as they often involve teams on both sides, and this leaves you with a whole raft of relationship intricacies and pressures to navigate.

In 2013, the PRCA created its first Client Consultancy Partnership Charter to help agencies and clients alike agree what they need from each other so that they can both succeed. This year the Charter was updated and is a brilliant guide to share with teams and clients focused on building true partnerships with understanding and respect on both sides.

Covering 11 key areas, it recognises the shared goal of delivering the best work and real value. From working together, setting scope of work and communicating openly to taking an integrated approach and continuous improvement, at its core is a desire for true partnership with each party understanding and respecting the commercial and operational imperatives of the other.

Relationships are complex at the best of times but can be your saving grace at the worst of times (adversity can actually strengthen bonds), so building the strongest partnerships possible with ‘clients’ is something you should consistently invest in.

Understand their triggers, respect their boundaries, encourage appreciation of each other and most of all be open and honest. Your work will be better, and your relationship will thrive.