4 TIPS FOR WORKING WITH A REAL CLIENT

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This post is written by a third year public relations student, for commencing third year public relations students.

Well, here I am. My three years of study have finally come to an end. My official results for my last two units will actually be released today. Perhaps this is where my inspiration to write this blog post came from? While reflecting on the trimester, I thought about my PR campaigns unit.

If you’re about to hit the third year of your public relations degree, chances are you’ll be working with a real client. It was probably one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences. Research essays are fun, but are usually only ever seen by your tutors/lecturers. This time, you get to put your skills and everything you’ve learned into practice!

So today, I am going to share with you 4 tips I learnt from working on a public relations campaign proposal for a real client… from the start of the trimester, right through to the end.

1) Think about your networks.

In this unit, I was required to think about my networks and an organisation which might have a problem to solve or an opportunity to capitalise on. For example, I had a role volunteering at a historical society and spoke to another ex-volunteer about the assignment requirements and searching for an organisation that might be interested in participating. The ex-volunteer recommended an organisation to approach. Talk to people. This is relationship building, and it also builds on your own confidence approaching people for information and explaining what you’re looking for and if you can help an organisation. I eventually found a client through networking with someone who knew the client. I then sent an e-mail to the client to ask them if they would like a campaign proposal document developed for them. This all worked out well and this is where it all began!

2) Know the client and PR situation.

We’re studying public relations, knowing the client and the situation they are facing is the most vital component and foundation for the entire campaign. I had the opportunity to go meet the client, adding an extra layer of relationship building to the campaign process and finding consensus. Going out and meeting the client face-to-face was a fantastic experience, because nothing beats face-to-face communication! If your client is located close by, I strongly encourage you to visit your client. Throughout the process, every time I made a decision, I had a picture of the client in my head and reflected back to the initial meeting which drove the process.

I was extremely interested in the client and the situation they were facing, so the large research element came naturally to me. My first piece of assessment called “Campaign Research Tactic with Explanatory Rationale”, required me to describe the research undertaken, trends effecting the industry, the organisation’s background, the public relations situation, the internal and external environment, develop problem/opportunity statements and analyse publics for the organisation. Do your research properly. It will help you build a solid but yet evolving foundation for the campaign proposal.

3) Always keep the two-way dialogue open.

Throughout the campaign planning process don’t be afraid to ask your client any questions you may have along the way and if you require more documents for your research. You may have heaps of great ideas for the campaign and it can be overwhelming trying to work out which ideas to focus on and which ones to leave out. I suggest developing a document with all the potential ideas and sending the document off to the client. This will help you hone in on the ideas and give you direction, and closer to meeting your client’s expectations. Keep in mind, campaign proposal documents evolve, so you can consider flicking back and forward to your ideas. Don’t scratch out or delete any ideas completely, you never know how something could fit into the campaign. Also, inform your client about the assignment submission and marking period, so they are aware of the waiting period.

4) Sending off the campaign proposal document to the client.

Once you’ve received the feedback from your tutor, make some adjustments and alterations to the document. It’s an important element to consider and inform the client that you’ll be considering the feedback received and updating the campaign proposal.

And finally….sending the campaign proposal off to the client! Remember to thank your client for their time and their commitment to your assignment (campaign proposal) and the process. Also, make sure you mention that if they require more information or have any questions about anything in the document that you’ll be able to assist them. This is relationship building and you never know if the relationship with your client will turn into networking opportunity in the future.

So there you have it, the four major things I learnt from working with a real client. If you have a similar unit in your course, embrace it! Make the most of it because it really does reinforce everything you’ve learnt so far and putting all your knowledge into something real. A very practical unit that developed very practical learning experiences. I hope that maybe one or all four tips will be useful, or interesting!

All the best,

Tara

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