The client question that sent me over the edge

Has a client ever asked you this question: How many times were we quoted vs. our competitors during the last six months?

Recently, during a Measurement Minute webinar, I shared a story about this question. I explained how this particular question sent me over the edge – or at least, it helped lead to my realization that measurement truly makes life easier for PR professionals. So, just in case you missed the webinar, I thought I’d relive the details here…

Once upon a time I had this client – she’s actually become a really good friend of mine – and every so often she would come to our PR team with a request like:

“I need to know how many times we were quoted vs. our competitors during the last six months… can you give me a report tomorrow?”

Now, we never really knew when our client was going to approach us with this type of urgent request. And, despite the fact that it happened multiple times, we were never prepared for her questions. Obviously this created a number of problems.

For one thing, from my client’s perspective, she thought she was asking a pretty straight-forward and simple question. Although we had never actually discussed it, she assumed that since my team had designed the PR strategy and we were responsible for executing it, that we were automatically tracking all the information relating to the campaign. She didn’t know that she was requesting info that we didn’t actually have sitting around on hand for her.

I can guarantee that my client had no idea that every time she asked this sort of question, our team had to scramble to pull together the information she was looking for.

I remember many a time when I, along with several members of my team, spent long hours – working late I might add – going through six months of coverage reports and tallying quotes. Of course, we played it cool in front of our client. We acted like it was no big deal to hand over the information. But what was going on behind the scenes was anything but cool. It was the opposite of cool.

Well, after more than a few late nights… and a disgruntled team, I had an epiphany. I finally realized that we needed to be compiling the information my client repeatedly asked us for, and we needed to collect it on an ongoing basis. That way we would have it at our fingertips the next time she requested a report.

So, I started making a list of questions my client could potentially ask, based on the type of information she usually requested. Then I began to think about all the information I’d need to gather to ensure that we’d always have data available for her when she requested it. Let me tell you, from that moment on our entire client-agency relationship improved. Life was easier for my PR team, and my client got the results she wanted faster than ever before.

What’s the point of sharing this story? Well, I hope it encourages you to think about how prepared you are, and whether or not you have access to a system that allows you to easily pull side-by-side comparisons of competitor coverage and your coverage. Because, when you have data like this at your fingertips you are better able to respond to client requests. And, you’re also more likely to spot insights that will help you improve the overall performance of your PR program.

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