The PR Over-servicing Issue: A Matter of Expectations

Have you ever noticed that misaligned expectations are the culprit in most relationship issues?  This is true at work and in our personal lives. I see this problem occur frequently in the PR world.  In fact, I believe that misunderstood expectations generally are at the root of the over-servicing problems that so many PR agencies struggle with.

Over-servicing happens when both sides fail to clearly communicate how they define success for a particular PR project.  Then, out of desperation for their expectations to be met, the client keeps adding to the project to ensure their version of success is achieved.  Not wanting to disappoint, the PR staff works twice as hard to accomplish the added tasks and ensure a happy client, while going over budget and burning themselves out in the process.  So, how can we break this cycle that PR seems to get sucked into over and over again?  It is a matter of expectations.





Today let’s touch on the first two points.

1.  Expectations:  Define and Document

Clear communication in the beginning will save you from misunderstandings in the future.  Before a project begins, get all the expectations out on the table.  Once everyone has agreed to a set of reasonable expectations, specific goals can be defined using budgetary and time parameters.  This honest communication is so crucial to the success of your PR-client relationship.  A client won’t be disappointed later if specific agreed upon goals are achieved.  A good CYA tip for agencies is to make sure you document expected deliverables.  This can serve as a friendly, firm reminder if clients attempt to move the goal line  later on.

2.  Expectations:  Stick to Them

It can be frustrating when a client decides at the last minute to “add-on” another PR activity.  These sudden “extras” catch agencies off guard, so they accommodate to keep everyone satisfied.  But that accommodation only fuels the over-servicing cycle.

Goals are put in place for a reason, and PR activities are designed strategically around those goals. Agencies need to be firm and remind clients that it is a waste of time and money to constantly take detours with non-goal-oriented tasks.  Staying focused on the agreed upon goals will produce the best results and keep everyone moving in the same direction.  There may be times when a change does make sense and some flexibility is needed in order to make improvements.  In those cases, make sure you communicate your expectations of the budget or time changes in order to accommodate the new request.

Defining expectations and sticking to them is a great start to controlling over-servicing.  How does your agency handle the over-servicing dilemma? Leave a comment and let me know.

Also, don’t miss my next post on this topic with tips on how to measure and deliver expectations. Watch for it later this week.




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