To assure, reassure and get your clients to trust in your capabilities is an artform that requires a large dose of finesse. Push too hard and it can come off as defensive, but go too soft and they’ll question your ability.
At the moment, we are all in the uncomfortable position of making decisions based on very little information about the future. Prior to COVID-19, we knew some factors would always be out of our control, but now our anxieties have increased due to a lack of clarity and certainty. With the RMCO due to end in August – and cases starting to resurface once more with new daily numbers in local transmissions – a second wave is coming our way. The future remains unclear, meaning our work as PR consultants is even more vital for our clients.
Amidst this crisis, there’s an opportunity for businesses to be remembered for being on the side of humanity and going the extra mile for its clients or customers, which will ultimately build credibility and trust.
We want our clients to shine as much as they can so their customers remain satisfied both now and when these unpleasant circumstances are behind us.
Here’s our best advice:
#1: Take the time to understand what your client is going through
It’s important to have a detailed understanding of the challenges at hand, not just in terms of communications but also from a business perspective. Here are a few things to find out:
- Has the client had to reduce staff?
- Are they operating at reduced hours, or have they ceased operations entirely?
- How has their supply chain been affected?
- Has the demand for their products or services increased or decreased?
- Do they have feedback from their employees during COVID?
- Do they have feedback from their customers?
- How are they touching base with them both regularly to understand their needs?
Use the new perspective you gain from their answers to empathise with your client and then build on this knowledge to anticipate what they’ll need moving forward. This brings us nicely to…
#2: Be a problem-solver
Don’t wait for them to come to you to pause their project or delay deliverables. Once you know what challenges they’re facing, speak to them directly and tell them how you’ll be pivoting and making things work even during the RMCO. To do this, consider:
- How can you use your role as their biggest supporter to help?
Support the client by providing additional feedback or input for ongoing activities. Be proactive and show them you’re always there with a helping hand if needed.
- What opportunities could you leverage online?
Propose online media briefings, shift content to social media platforms and create broader social media and digital marketing plans.
- What deliverables could you switch in order to still get coverage?
PR is always important, but it can be harder to get the hits right now, depending on the client. How can you offer to tweak your scope to include OpEds or social media marketing instead?
For example: If an in-person event has been cancelled or is no longer possible, can you convert that deliverable into another form of content or PR? Several companies have been swift to boost their online presence, if they did not already have one in place. Is that something you can help your client explore?
Perhaps your client has seen a reduction in revenue streams, or have had to make several difficult business decisions. You need to reassure them that not all hope is lost — they can survive this crisis if they do things right.
#3 Keep them up to date
But you’ll have to do this on your client’s terms. It can be tricky to stay on top of emails or even get a response from some clients, so regular updates via WhatsApp and phone calls are often the best way to communicate (recapping everything on email afterwards, of course!) It can be challenging when you need to chase for information and updates, but we see it as a way to solidify our relationship with them — after all, we have a direct line to them.
#4 Finally, plan ahead
Of course, you need to meet your client’s requirements and deliver the scope of work agreed to. However, if you think ahead and put together a plan that will result in success for your client once the RMCO is over, or come up with creative ways to build traction when all activity has come to a standstill, you’ll put your client (and yourself) at the front of the pack.
The real art in reassuring clients is in how you build the relationship from the beginning, so that when a crisis hits, they have full confidence and trust in your capacity to do what’s right for their business.
Need help coming up with a plan that’ll help you emerge even stronger from the COVID-19 crisis? We can help — firstname.lastname@example.org