Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Definition of Success

For part three of seven, here's an all too typical scenario that illustrates a common problem with the working relationship between clients and PR agencies: The client and the PR firm meet and agree on a plan of action to launch a new company initiative. Three months later, the PR firm and the client meet to evaluate the effort. The PR firm believes it's done a great job yet the client is disappointed. How could this be?

As often as the client and PR firm looked at one another and nodded in apparent agreement at the start of the project, they never REALLY discussed the client's definition of success and how it would be measured. The resulting disconnect isn't pretty and causes more breakups than any of us would care to count.

So what can you do? How can you assure that you and your client are really on the same page at the beginning and throughout the project? The answer is simple: Don't gloss over what you regard as mutually understood!

Be as specific as possible about the objectives, timing, measures, etc. at the start. Take the initiative by driving that conversation. It will not only help you come to a mutual definition of success, but it will demonstrate that you actually welcome accountability. But BEWARE... your work isn't done just yet. Client expectations can and will change over time. Staying attuned to this dynamic will require your engaging in an ongoing dialogue about expectations and goals. The wrap on PR people is that we don't like to be held accountable. I'm not sure we mind being accountable, but we have to do a better job of clarifying what that means for all parties involved.

Agreeing on the definition of success is key.

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