We spend a lot of time in the industry talking about what makes for a good communications professional, be it public relations, social media or content marketing.
We dissect every aspect of what we do to try to do it better the next time.
But there is another half to this equation: Clients.
Clients can be internal or external, so even if you work for a company, not an agency, you’ve had clients.
And, while we like to think, as communicators, we have some sort of special mojo sauce to create and execute the greatest results-driven plan in history, much of our success can be traced back to our clients setting us up for success.
There are numerous things clients can do to help their communications teams help them.
Conversely, something a client doesn’t do can harm your work.
Case in point:
A lifetime ago, I did PR and marketing for a nonprofit organization. A major newspaper reporter called be the evening before their biggest annual fundraiser. To warn me.
She had dug up tax records that painted a pretty bleak picture about my client. Virtually no money given to charity in three years as a 501(c)3.
Tax records, you see, have no spin.
I did the best I could trying to minimize the damage, but my options were limited in how to persuade a very credible reporter to not write a perfectly legitimate and newsworthy story.
After giving a valiant, yet mostly futile effort, I called my client and had the following conversation with my client:
I felt like I was given a butter knife to take to a gun fight.
Without knowledge of the situation, I was all but helpless.
We’re often called upon to protect from problems that we may not even know about.
My question to you: How much dirty laundry should clients show their communications professionals? Does disclosing more necessarily help your PR team do better work?