Tuesday, February 14, 2012
All clients are born in Neptune
One of the biggest challenges in PR is stakeholder management, this ranges from the internal to the external stakeholders. At agency level the internal stakeholders may include; the Finance Director who doesn’t understand why you need a budget for a media drink out, the Account Director who doesn’t seem to get the demands of a client that are making the Account executive spend 28 hours on an account.
But the biggest stakeholder to manage at agency level is the client; this is a person or group of persons who pride themselves with paying for not only the day to day running of the agency but also paying the salaries of the agency’s team.
Despite their key role in the success of any communication campaign for the organization; on many occasions, the clients have proved to be their own worst enermy.With the guidance of a number of colleagues in the PR and advertising sector; today, I try to define the different types of clients in four merited categories:
At position four is; the unreachable Client
This client does not return any of your calls or emails within a reasonable amount of time (say, three working days; this character can be attributed to situations such as;
• If you have delivered the project, the client might be avoiding payment
• The client might be experiencing financial difficulties and wants to discontinue the project, but either wants to avoid the penalty (in case one is stipulated in the contract) or doesn’t know how to tell you (this happened to me on several occasions),
Closely followed at number three is; the procrastinating Client
This client doesn’t communicate with you often enough or according to the project’s timetable. This prolongs the project, sometimes way past the timeframe you set at the beginning. It then starts eating into the time that you were expecting to devote to other work. Such situations end up messing up your schedule and work efficiency.
The procrastinating client will always justify the delayed communication reasons ranging from slow internal systems that make decision making a VERY big deal. On the local scene, head offices of the global brands will be blamed for delaying budget approvals, brand guidelines etc.
At times the perennial procrastinator may have chewed more that he/she can swallow and thus end up rendering the project a ‘next financial year ‘project!!!
In second position is the disrespectful Client
“This could have been done internally.” This is the cliché from such clients. Frequently, the agency job isn’t taken seriously despite the fact that they have been hired and paid to do something the client is unable to do. Such clients will act bossy, insist that they know what’s best for their brands, assign you tasks without consultation, and neglect to ask your opinion on key matters. Even worse, they might communicate with you disrespectfully.
Lastly, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the ABSURD Client; this client thrives on making unreasonable requests that are always combined with unrealistic delivery timelines. As an agency, many will struggle to stick to the unrealistic timelines but the Absurd client will counter the proactiveness by rejecting the various demos/proposals without giving sufficient criticism or suggestions, leaving you to guess what they dislike ("I don’t know what’s wrong. I just don’t like it.")
The absurd client can easily request services that are not stipulated in the budget and refuse to pay for them while justifying it by calling it an add-on.
Feel free to include types of clients that you have met in your day to day agency work; for the clients who survived the above categories…..you are not yet the ‘real client.’