Let’s Just Be Friends

Client relationships can sometimes get hot and heavy. You’re at the helm of a campaign or a crisis. Suddenly, disagreements about strategy, content and execution arise. Explaining the PR way to do things can put a strain on communication with a client.

You constantly try to prove your allegiance and admiration because they’re insecure. You consistently provide support and assure them that everything is going to turn out okay because they’ve been hurt before. You mistakenly make a judgement call that isn’t the best but quickly resolve the issue. Now they question your faithfulness.

It almost feels like dating. Except in dating, you can request to “just be friends” in order to end the relationship or avoid the pressure of entering a deeper one.

But with a client, the best way to make nice is to relate and make friends. If you want to keep them, you have to figure out how to get over the communication barriers and opinion differences.

You always have to make a case for PR, especially in the tough economic times we are now facing. During the current downturn and the rapid shift in media, the communications arm can get eliminated, the PR message can get blurred and the marketing budget trimmed. Defending the value of your role in the client’s success is going to take more care and attention. However, proving why you’re in the driver’s seat shouldn’t have to always come to a dispute. They hired you for a reason.

Balancing the ups and downs of a client relationship is going to take the endurance of managing a friendship. Avoid client conflict at all costs and address it when necessary. Instead of taking the high road with each other, learn how to be friends.

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