As an agency PR professional, we have become accustomed to the “always on” lifestyle but the pace has quickened over the past few years, as new communications platforms emerge that allow for ever more direct and immediate communication with clients. This has changed not only the way that I work, but also the way that I interact with the client organization as a whole.
With a plethora of collaboration tools such as Slack, Skype, WhatsApp, and WeChat used by clients today, I need to adapt to my client’s preferred communication channel so they can continue their work flow in whichever platform they spend their time. The clearest benefit of all these new platforms is the ease of use. It’s no big deal to create another Slack channel or WhatsApp group, and it’s a simple matter of a few taps to add another member to an existing group. But what is this doing for the client/agency relationship?
Some clients like quick texts, some prefer calls, and still others require multiple emails before they finally respond. Finding out which method of communication works best for each client will enable you to develop a better rapport with them while ensuring you get the access and information you require.
The fact that channels such as Slack and WhatsApp facilitate less formal communication have made it possible for me and other PR professionals to create deeper relationships that don’t exist over email. Easier communication is a plus, but communicating with clients in a way that aligns with their company culture is a major benefit that in turn pulls you closer to their culture.
I’m a big proponent of the idea that the medium is the message and if you communicate like you are part of the organization that is exactly how you will be perceived.
For example, one of my clients is based in Beijing, which means that I very often use WeChat to communicate with them. Not only can I send messages without having to take the time difference into consideration, I’m also able to work within their culture, which helps to integrate me more seamlessly into their team, become more entrenched, and has even opened the door for me to take on more projects.
In order to be a good PR person, you have to understand the needs of the company you work for. Sounds simple, right? In reality, a lot of PR professionals struggle to get the access and information they need in order to craft an image that truly reflects what the organization stands for. To give an example, let’s say that I’m representing a big data platform that’s looking to get new clients. In order to write an effective press release on their behalf, I need to know not only what the company does, how it’s different from its competitors; and adds value to the clients it works with; but also nuanced intricacies from product teams, sales and senior leadership—all of whom are now more accessible. Without this information, you’re limited in the story that you can tell, which in turn limits the opportunities that a company will have.
Yes, the world of PR and communications has definitely changed over the past few years, but I would argue it’s for the better. The sheer number of new platforms currently available to us has enabled PR practitioners to go beyond the assigned PR gatekeeper that most organizations have in place. I can now communicate with my clients in a way that adequately reflects the fast-paced news cycle, and is more natural and intimate. Platforms like Slack, WhatsApp and WeChat are the new norm for the PR professional-client relationship. It might take some time to get used to the sheer amount of information that’s coming in, but in the long run, it lets you build a better, stronger connection that’ll make your job that much easier.
About the Author: Melody is Chief Everything Officer at Briz Media Group, a boutique PR firm that builds credible awareness for its clients. Melody is responsible for brand building for some of the biggest names in AdTech, MarTech and mobile media and at Briz Media Group, she leads the agency and spearheads the management of all accounts. Melody has over ten years of experience elevating the profile of organizations and executive leadership on a global basis, through the creation and implementation of innovative marketing and communications programs that drive brand awareness, media coverage, client loyalty, lead generation and customer acquisition. She has a proven track record for creating and seamlessly executing events, public relations and social media campaigns, strategic partnerships, content creation and thought leadership development at companies, including Grey Advertising, DDB Worldwide and Interbrand. Melody is based on the Upper West Side of New York. In her spare time, you can find her chasing her two children (one human, one K9) around Central Park.