Public Relations or PR has assumed a much bigger role these days than what it used to be a few years ago. It has grown rapidly and dynamically and now covers a wide area of interest as it has realized it reach and potential. Hence, these days PR professionals are viewed in a much bigger capacity where they are looked upon as strategic partners that are instrumental in bringing about a crucial change in the brand image. Brands that have realized this fact, have gained exponentially in the process.
On the other hand, it is the duty of a PR professional to make the clients understand the importance of their role and also contribute actively towards building the brand image. One of the roles that the domain of public relation has developed more recently but has assumed an important place is that of counseling the client.
So what exactly is PR counseling?
Experts now say that counseling is the first step towards developing and implementing a long-term Public Relations strategy that is very important for brands these days as one need to evaluate the client’s business objectives, target audiences and competition in the market. The PR professional should do a thorough research and also study these parameters that will help him or her develop the Public Relations objectives and subsequently the PR strategy to work towards achieving them. PR counseling is considered to be a continuous process that helps assess different issues and opportunities that the client might face from time to time and suggest ways to deal with them and move forward. Counseling in this particular field also shows how Public Relations professionals communicate with their clients. Once the client accepts and treats the PR professional as its strategic partner, it will be more open to their counsel.
What makes you an effective PR counselor?
Interestingly enough, brands have started to understand the importance of crisis, image and reputation management and are now open to being counseled by their PR professionals. But there are a few things that as a PR professional that you need to cultivate in order to become an effective PR counselor. Below are the top three:
- Lend an ear: The more you listen, the better you can counsel! As an effective and good Public Relations professional, you need to develop this particular quality that will not only endear you to your clients, but will also help you develop influential strategies to change the game for your client. Apart from being able to ask the right questions and gather the required information, you should train your ear to hear your client out well as you never know which information will prove to be the game changer. Your role is that of a problem solver, so listen well and analyze the problem to reach a solution.
- Conduct in-depth research: As a PR professional, you need to have a knack for research. The more research you do, you’ll be able to come up with a more open solution. Apart from knowing your client and his strengths and weaknesses, you need to also learn about his competition, market situation, threats and so on. Do your homework well before arriving at a conclusion and suggesting solutions.
- Be frank and honest: While some clients are fairly easy to deal with, since they are open to your suggestion and accept strategies others aren’t that easy. In that case, you need to be tactful but, at the same time be frank and honest and explain to them about the repercussions that they might face otherwise. A lot of it depends on what you say and how you say it. Be a friend to your client as it gets easier to deal with them when you’re on friendly terms.
When is PR counseling recommended?
While this can be an ongoing process, there are times when the client requires counseling for a specific issue. There are a lot of serious situations when PR counseling can do wonders for the clients. It can be especially when:
- Products are not moving fast enough
- Client is looking to expand into a new market
- Is threatened with a takeover, lawsuit or investigation
- Threatened by competition making significant inroads
- Crisis management especially when reputation is at stake
- Is accused of environment pollution
- Pioneered new technology and are ready to go to market
Whatever the case maybe, Public Relations consultants should offer strategies that are well developed and are customized to suit the client’s requirements. They should be well aware of the specific requirements of the client and suggest strategies accordingly. One needs to take the financial, legal and government angles into consideration before making any suggestions though your role is limited to communication. What you say as a representative of the company will affect the overall brand image.
At Unspun we understand this crucial aspect of PR and are continuously working with our clients as counselors and helping develop strategies that work best for them.