Funny how this bit of advice is relevant to just about everything. The difference in PR is you have to keep your eye on the same ball your client is watching. Putting all your focus on PR outcomes isn't going to be sufficient in most cases. For example, if your PR program is ultimately aimed at driving store traffic and increasing sales, and you're fixated exclusively on media coverage, you may not keep your client for very long.
Let your client know you care about the same things (s)he cares about. This is how you'll be regarded as a business partner versus just a publicity person. The more you stay in touch with your client's business needs, the more value you'll bring to your client and the more your client will value you. If this practice sounds obvious, that's great, but you'd be surprised at how rare it is.
Consider what happens during the lean times: Companies are quick to cut PR budgets or dismiss their firms altogether, when it should be the time they need and value us most. They don't feel this way because we do such a horrible job of demonstrating our overall value to their enterprise. Unless clients believe their business will be better off WITH our help than WITHOUT it, then you and your firm will always be held hostage by the whims of the marketplace. Now you can make the argument that nothing you do will ever change that dynamic. OR you could regard it much more in terms of Pascal’s wager that “the infinite expected value of believing is always greater than the expected value of not believing.” In other words, what have you got to lose by demonstrating a focus on your client's business and raising your client service game?
As students entering the PR profession, begin your careers with an orientation and an interest in your clients that is greater than just PR results. Do so successfully, and you'll take a giant step toward improving the overall perception of what we do.
This is the seventh and final supplemental post to the series I began just after the first of the year. Thanks to Kelli Matthews and her class at the University of Oregon. Best wishes to you all and Go Ducks!