The A-Z of good client protocol

Indigo’s PR and public affairs teams have years of collective experience across a huge variety of clients and sectors. So we asked them to share what they see as the essentials of for our A-Z to client protocol.

A – Authority (noun): an expert or an authoritative written work in a particular field

Clients rely on us to be authoritative, advising them on the best means to communicate their messages. The end result should be that the reputation and authority of the client rises continuously and that they trust us to help that happen.

B – Bold (adj): standing out distinctly; conspicuous

Aim high. It’s important to meet, then exceed, expectations so be bold and ambitious with ideas.

C – Careful (adj): cautious in attitude or action; prudent

Take a careful approach to your client’s account that manages risk and protects their reputation. Also, check and double check who’s in the ‘cc’ bar before you send that sensitive email!

D – Direct (adj): without delay or evasion; straightforward

Don’t beat about the bush. You are there to advise clients on their communication needs and to do that you need to be clear about the messages that need used. This can sometimes result in challenging the client’s view but that’s part of the role. In the end they’ll usually appreciate your honesty. (See also T – Tact (n), below.)

E – Enthusiasm (noun): ardent and lively interest or eagerness

Tackle even the smallest account as if it’s your biggest. The client will love your enthusiasm and that will pay off in the end.

F – Find (verb): to locate, attain, or obtain by search or effort

If a hook for an article or briefing isn’t obvious at first pass then delve further until you find the nugget of a client’s story that will give you an angle that engages their audience.

G – Generate (verb): to bring into existence; cause to be; produce

Whether it is generating coverage, ideas or campaign strategy, don’t sit back – keep being proactive about content generation.

H – Hours (plural noun): a period regularly or customarily appointed for work, business, etc

There is no substitute for putting in the hours, whether it’s concocting new ideas or delivering their latest launch. Just make sure you keep a note of your hours so you don’t end up over-servicing the client and under-valuing your time.

IInspect (verb): to examine closely, esp for faults or errors

Whether it’s sending a news release through for client approval or proofing magazine copy, attention to detail is crucial. It’s imperative there are no typos or factual inaccuracies.

J Juggling (verb): to throw and catch (several objects) continuously so that most are in the air all the time 

Working on a variety of clients means there’s a need to cross over into different accounts throughout the working day, which is why the ability to juggle pressing priorities and being organised makes the world of difference in delivering effectively for clients.

KKnowledge (noun): the facts, feelings, or experiences known by a person or group of people

You’ll only really know your clients if you keep in close contact with them and work to understand what makes them tick. If a meeting has to be cancelled, don’t wait until the next one to catch up. Pick up the phone or drop them an email to find out what’s happening to ensure opportunities aren’t missed.

L – Listen (verb) to concentrate on hearing something

Listening to what a client has to say is possibly the most important thing you can do. You need to understand what the client does and wants if you are going to do what a good job for them.

M – Meeting (noun): an act of coming together; encounter

You can’t underestimate the power of speaking to someone in person. Next time you start to type an email or pick up the phone, think whether there’s an opportunity to speak in person instead and not only hear, but see, how they’re feeling and reacting.

N – Newspapers (noun): a weekly or daily publication consisting of folded sheets and containing articles on the news, features, reviews, and advertisements

Although a lot of main stories are carried online and via broadcast nowadays, keep in touch with local and national newspapers on a daily basis. Finding out which journalist writes a particular column will help you see what they want and how your client’s stories can be read by the best audience.

O – Ownership (noun): the state or fact of being an owner

Taking ownership of a project is essential. During the good times or if things don’t go as planned it’s important to take responsibility for all of it, otherwise trust with a client could be jeopardised.

P – Passion (noun): a strong affection or enthusiasm for an object, concept, etc

You have to show you are passionate not only for your own job, but for your client’s work too. This will help you get ahead and give every day your all.

Q – Q&A (abbrev): Question and Answer: an exchange of questions and answers

Clients will trust your advice if you help them prepare well for stressful or difficult meetings or interviews.  Perfect the Q&A and they’ll have confidence in you, as well as their own messages.

R – Research (verb): to carry out investigations into (a subject, problem, etc).

Get to know your client and their audience. Also, consider research angles as a good way to generate PR and public affairs content.

S – Speed (noun): the act or quality of acting or moving fast; rapidity

Communications is a fast paced business and clients expect a quick and responsive service that anticipates their needs. Be the first to come to them with the news and advice they need.

T – Tact (noun): a sense of what is fitting and considerate in dealing with others

Clients are people after all – they have good and bad days. Whatever they throw at you, always behave with tact and diplomacy.  Never lose your temper.

U – Understanding (noun): personal opinion or interpretation of a subject

Clients may not always know what they’re asking us for and it’s our job to work with them to tease that out.

V – Versatile (adj): capable of or adapted for many different uses, skills, etc

You never quite know where an idea or project will lead and sometime you just need to go with it.

WWork (noun): physical or mental effort directed towards doing or making something

Inspiration and creativity matter a lot but there’s no substitute for putting in the effort and hard work.

X X Factor (noun): a hard-to-describe influence or quality

Looking for that extra element that can elevate a story or an idea to make a bigger impact.

YYOLO (abbrev) (informal): you only live once (expressing the view that one should make the most of the present moment)

Opportunities may come up to pitch an unorthodox idea or story. Keep your brainstorming open to all ideas and from one tiny spark fantastic campaign ideas can grow.

ZZeal (noun): fervour for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavour; enthusiastic diligence; ardour

Never lose your sparkle. If you don’t feel energised and enthused by an idea how can you expect the client to be? Communications is an industry that’s continually evolving so make sure you are informed to keep it fresh, new and engaging.