Six Traits of a Great PR Client (and six of the worst!)

Six Traits of a Great PR Client (and six of the worst!).

 Jessica.SharpBy Jessica Sharp, Principal, Maven Communications

In the PR business we have the opportunity to represent amazing businesses and organizations that develop innovative products, create initiatives that positively impact communities, and provide services that improve people’s lives. What makes working with such amazing companies even better is when there is a real simpatico relationship between the client and the agency.

If you’ve been in PR for a while you know what I mean. A relationship where you work together well, respect each other’s opinions and push each other to produce the best outcomes possible.

Out of all of the traits that my clients have had over the years, I’ve narrowed it down to six that I feel are the most important and keep me loving what I do every day. Hopefully these are traits you’re also able to experience as a PR professional.

Six traits of a great PR client:

  1. The client is open to exploring initiatives that they’ve never done before because…

  2. The client trusts your expertise and respects your professional recommendations.

  3. The client is on board with adjusting the campaign to keep the results aligned with the business objectives of the company.

  4. The client pushes you to continually be innovative.

  5. The client’s campaigns are intellectually stimulating…

  6. And also intellectually demanding.

Just like public relations campaigns evolve, so do relationships with clients.  Sometimes this change happens simultaneously, but not always. As an agency, it’s important to realize that this can happen, and that it can affect the outcome of your PR campaign, sometimes greatly.

The client/agency relationship doesn’t always have to be rainbows and unicorns, but it does need to be productive, respectful, and beneficial. If a relationship has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer beneficial for either party, or worse, to the detriment of the PR campaign, it might be time to cut ties.

Here are six instances where it’s okay, and probably appropriate, to end your relationship with a client:

  1. When a client it unwilling to shift the tactics of a campaign, even though results indicate that it should be done.

  2. When a client’s expectations become unrealistic, and even after addressing the issue they still expect unattainable results.

  3. The client is asking you to do something unethical.

  4. The number of hours your team is consistently putting into the account has made it unprofitable for the firm; and the client is unwilling to reduce the workload, or increase the retainer.

  5. There are multiple instances where the client is not providing the full story, or withholding information that is important for you to have in order to do your job effectively. To that point, if you discover the client is lying to you, it’s time to call it quits.

  6. If you’re generally not being treated well. I’m a strong believer that there is no reason, none, to have to endure an abusive client.

In the end, the most successful and rewarding client/agency relationships should be one where both client and agency are working together to achieve the goals of the company. The combined minds should be better than the singular.

About the Author: Jessica Sharp is principal of Maven Communications, a results-driven PR, social media and issues management agency based in Philadelphia. More at