Comfort – If you’re in this business, you’re a Mad Men fan. That being the case, you know Roger Sterling, partner at Sterling Cooper. In the show, Sterling mentions something to the effect that 50 percent of his business is getting people to like you. (Note: he was shouting at an account executive at the time) Returning back to reality for a second – billionaire industrialist John D. Rockefeller said, “The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee. And I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.”
While in the eyes of a client, much of a PR agency’s success can be quantified in media “hits” and other end-results, it’s the relationship forged in the life of the account that ends up being the true strength of an agency. If you are to succeed at an agency, client relationship-building must be a primary goal.
Credibility – Why are you here? For the purposes of this exercise, think less philosophical and more skill set. Under the best circumstances, you will be given ample time to prove yourself on the job. The pace with which new talent is integrated into an account will vary by agency and job title. Regardless, it’s important to have a voice as early as the first week with clients and your work will speak for itself in due course. Be succinct in discussing your background as it’s relevant to the account. Study the client’s business and offer expert counsel by introducing some new ideas. It won’t always matter that you’re right. It will always matter that you’re smart and speak eruditely about the company.
Continuity –To avoid an argument, let’s agree that change is neither good nor bad. It just simply is. Your arrival at the new agency represents change, whether you were part of a wave of new hires or are filling a new post. Every client has a different tolerance level for change. Your job is to get them comfortable with the new arrangements. Assuming the existing work was satisfactory, the client expects a minimum of what they already have, but ideally, your agency wants to exceed those expectations. You’ll want to show that by working you into the lineup, the team will ensure a consistent and continuous level of performance in a smooth transition.
Now, go make Sterling and Rockefeller proud.
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