I have spent some of today going around my flat noting every single crevice, unit, appliance and piece of furniture, then judging their varying states of working order and presentation, and noting every possible imperfection.
Why? Well I am about to rent out my flat and I want my tenants to know that I am playing things straight with them andI want to lessen the chance of any grey areas when their tenancy ends and it is time to hand back full deposits.
Yes, every one of us will get very detailed and notice every scuff mark on the wall, and which pillowcases are from ASDA and which ones are from John Lewis, when there is money involved. Particularly when we could lose money or our property could be devalued if we don’t note down every little thing down.
If we consistently go into as much pinpoint detail when we are evaluating the success of PR or social media campaigns for clients, then whether a campaign sets the world alight or not, surely we end up with clients that feel in very safe hands. And they would know we took their money, the equivalent of deposits (given in the hope of marketing success) very seriously. This type of reporting would also show how seriously we take the justification of our fee to them and conversely how seriously we take them as a client.
Recently I have been working on a campaign promoting a piece of video content. When we received the content it was very different by nature from what all parties had intended and didn’t have the imagined viral potential. Diligently my team plugged away dotting every i and crossing every t to gain as much traffic for the video footage as possible, whilst appreciating its inherent limitations. Every day reports would go over detailing coverage, work done, inbound links , anecdotal or email correspondence showing social media influencer engagement, demographic breakdowns of viewer ship of the video, twitter chatter about it, traffic to the brands site and so on.
The client didn’t ask for any of this: they simply wanted to be kept up-to-date weekly on the number of views. And to be honest, when weeks went by, and apart from my phone calls to the client, I never heard any response to the daily updates, I thought maybe it was a wasted exercise to keep going above and beyond in all the reporting. Sure, we were giving them all types of analysis and insight that might be useful to them internally when talking about the extent of interaction the video was receiving but maybe they were getting that from their media agency, another dedicated digital agency, or they just didn’t need it.
This was my thinking when I asked a colleague who had just been for a meeting with the client what their current response to the fact the video simply was not going to go viral. They said that obviously the client had to reset expectations about how many views it would get internally which was uncomfortable, but that they were pleased with how the views were steadily climbing because of the work we were doing and how they are talking in glowing terms about the team and its work.
I thought that was odd, as normally if a campaign isn’t as success on a particular criteria as the marketeer intended, mud will hit the agency. So I asked why the client was so happy with my team.
Apparently because of the daily reporting. It meant they knew we took them and their investment seriously. They could see how hard and tactically we were working each day, and they had constant and evolving evidence to present internally of when and why views were going up and down, based on our work.
This example highlights the importance of always noting everything down for clients to see, in order to provide them with insights and stats they may find useful, even though they would never think to ask you for them.
If you would do it to make sure your flat doesn’t get damaged, or to avoid a loss on a deposit, then you owe it to your client. This is being called :the age of the client”, but I think it is as much about the age of transparency and justification in the in the world of PR.
We talk about measurability, but isn’t that really jargon for being honest, informative and not bullshitting? Out of respect for the fact that we have moved into a time and epoch where every lost penny counts. If this means PR has to grow up and become more accountable, then so be it and good, because I think clients will thanks us for it. That doesn’t mean we can’t take gambles, but if we do, we much chart them, track them, explain them and be transparent about what the client is and isn’t getting all through the activation of that gamble. So I suggest if you can find any sort of analysis, insight or statistic out that illustrates something about what you are up to, then you should be relaying it to the client. The amount of tweets on a campaign you are working on in a day may not mean much to you, but it may mean a lot to a client on a page in one of their presentations!