In my opinion, gone are the days of lengthy meetings between clients and consultants. Sure, initially, there’ll be the need for a strategy and activity meeting, in which we develop the story, messaging and a timeline, but from that point on we prefer to develop an open, daily even, dialogue with our clients.
I used to grimace, in my former life as an employee, at the time stacked up thanks to the commute to and from meetings. You could end up charging the client as much as 15% of their monthly fee for something that could be discussed ongoing or entail a 15 to 20-minute conference call. This doesn’t include the prep time ahead of the meeting; writing an agenda, emailing or printing copies of said agenda – and then there’s the follow-up too, which includes the writing of minutes or a report. By this time you’ve racked up 30% of the month’s consultancy allocation, before you’ve actually got to the PR bit.
I acknowledge the fact that meetings are there to offer the opportunity for discussion, review, and planning, but I believe, unless there’s a dramatic change to the campaign strategy or a crisis has unfolded, if you know your client well enough you should be able to weave your way through their business, identify opportunities and execute successful outcomes without eating into valuable consultancy time stuck in a boardroom.
In fact, our approach goes even further than this. We often ‘pop in’ on our clients or arrange a catch up once a quarter, rather than a sit-down, itemized, formulaic meeting. And, they love it; especially when it involves lunch, coffee or even (dare I say it) a glass of wine or pint of beer.
On top of this we see it as our responsibility to introduce our clients to opportunities outside of their office, practice, store or workshop. We often play host to our clients at networking events, luncheons or fundraising galas because we want to help them to grow their network – and ultimately their business.
I was once told that it was wrong to socialize with my clients (pre Gem PR & Media I’ll add), but this was a misconception – I wasn’t socializing, but building a network of successful opportunities and outcomes with and for my clients - long may we continue to do so.