The Changing Face of Client Engagement in PR

Ishita Shah & Khushboo Alag

The entire media and marketing industry, just like most other industries, is going through a massive change amidst the current scenario, and Public Relations, too, has not been spared. Media and client teams are two ends that we as PR professionals need to balance. While what happens with media is beyond our control, setting client expectations is in our control. Client engagement or client management assumes a pivotal role in times of crisis. PR professionals typically are busier than ever on behalf of a client during a crisis. However, while we drive media management externally, we cannot let go of the other end. Communicating and retaining the confidence of clients is crucial as you navigate choppy waters to ensure you reach safe harbor. All hands must be on deck.

We have put together a list of our best recommendations that PR professionals can implement to retain client confidence:

New Communication objectives:

With things changing drastically every few days, right from the pandemic to the India-China tensions, everything needs to change in the new normal. We need to treat every existing client as a new client. It is important to proactively ask our clients how have things changed for them, and what changes have those in turn brought to their business objectives. We need to ask them to define their new business objectives/goals, and craft revised communication objectives basis the same. We should also understand what PR success means to them in the new normal – with respect to employees, government & other stakeholders. It is also important to be aware of their financial situation and how the current scenario has impacted them. All of this will help us drive communication in a way which reaps maximum benefits for our clients.

Media mapping:

Quite a few Indian media houses have gone through difficult times in the last quarter – with pages/supplements being done away with and pages being reduced. A fair lot has also moved online. You need to have your finger on the media pulse. It is time for us as PR professionals to revisit our media lists and re-work them…almost on a daily basis. Re-share these with the clients with a fresh perspective.

Owned media:

Those clients who have been waiting to get started on their LinkedIn & Twitter pages or starting their video blog- there is no better time than NOW. It is a powerful medium of communication. As PR consultants you can drive this initiative on owned media. You are best suited for it. Given the amount of media mapping and consumption you would be doing at this point, you will be able to guide your client on sensitive areas, explosive issues, and leadership projection. This will help them create credible visibility for their brand philosophy without pushing a product or service.

Be honest

This is the most crucial step that we consciously need to take. Things have changed. We need to be truthful, but at the same time give them a sense of hope. It is important to explain the real scenario to them and what PR can and cannot control. Be honest & ask them for support, after all, teamwork makes the dream work.

Be Realistic:

Share the right story peg with the right journalist with a right timeline, make your client aware of the right set of deliverables and do not over-promise. At times, we might also need to tell clients that some angles which would work in the normal scenario, might not work right now, but can be considered when things return to normalcy. These nuances are important in our communication and play a crucial role at this point.

Create short term goals:

The most important aspect post Covid-19 is to think locally and about what is currently achievable. Plan for short term deliverables as the circumstances can change at any given point of time.  

Reading is the key to success:

This is not a new shift, but research & reading is significant in the current state as well. Now more than ever. Do a lot of reading as it will help you gain insight of the changing industry trends and in turn, help educate clients better.


Keep your clients informed about the developments on the account. Don’t give up if you are not able to crack a particular angle. Give them an overall sense of what is working in the media and your pitches on a regular basis. That will help clients understand and work with you to create more relevant pitches. By keeping them informed, we as PR professionals will not only showcase efforts but also gain the client’s confidence.   

Time for creativity:

Right now, it’s time for creativity and not the ROI. If the client asks you for ROI on PR right now, then they need to ask themselves the following questions first:

  • Have you been empathetic to your customers?
  • Have you struck the chord with your customer, employees, and other stakeholders?

When the answer to both the above is ‘yes’, your PR will start becoming organic. These are going to be the key determining factors of successful PR rather than ROI.

These are difficult times, but with support, teamwork, and positive attitude we will have a fair chance of sailing through this safely together.

Connect with us on to know more about how we can help your brand create a powerful story.

About Nucleus PR

The 12-year old firm has clients across multiple verticals. With an already established presence in 4 major metros, they have successfully created a strong affiliate network across 88 towns across the country via a team of trusted professional experts. With its inclusion in the exclusive and prestigious worldwide collaborative network of PR firms – PRBI Boutiques International, it adds brilliant minds from over 40 agencies across 14 countries to their resource pool. As the first members from the Asian sub-continent, they represent the entire region in the prestigious international PR network. Their current portfolio includes entertainment, lifestyle, media, hospitality and corporate clients across MNCs, SMEs, and Startups.

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