The phrase, “I’m a team player,” should have vanished decades ago. When you break it down, a team player, in its most basic form, means you can catch something that someone else teed up for you, and either score, or pass it along to someone else. The latter certainly doesn’t sound like someone who’s an indispensable part of a team, and in a time when marketing budgets are being scrutinized by CMOs, PR agencies need to show their value now more than ever.
COVID-19 deeply impacted brand budgets. While some brands were forced to furlough or make layoffs, others took one look at their balance sheets and crossed off anything that wasn’t essential. As a result, agencies needed to demonstrate how they could best support their clients’ unique needs and changing budgets. Account leads should look at their teams with a different lens and ask themselves these questions:
Is my account staffed correctly? Is my team the best fit for what my client needs right now?
What services are we not doing that we could introduce to supplement the program? Or, can we scale back on other areas that aren’t a priority anymore? For example, could your client benefit more from a crisis communications workshop than from media outreach right now?
No matter what your client’s marketing budget is, there’s always room to reallocate. And while budgets are being reviewed, you don’t want your team to be the “fat” that gets trimmed. Get on the same level as your client contact and speak to them as a partner. Trust takes months, even years, to build. Establishing this kind of relationship with your client lets them know you’re there with them not just to weather the storm, but come out of it stronger. Here are a few tips for establishing rapport:
Find out who your daily contact reports to and what KPIs are top priority for them. Then, articulate how PR can support those goals.
Go the extra mile. Chances are your client may be wearing multiple hats this year to make up for their colleagues being furloughed last year or for roles that were dissolved. Does your client have a quarterly budget meeting you could offer to create a couple of slides for, highlighting your successes and how the PR program is integrated with marketing? Try to think two steps ahead so your client will see you as an extension of their team.
Take the time now to set up your relationship for success. It will lead to better ideas and results, deeper trust with your clients and longer-term partnerships.
Become indispensable; be a team partner instead of a team player.