It’s been a busy month for Felicity, with our President Amy Laski writing her first article (of many) for Women of Influence and being quoted as a PR/communications expert in a number of articles, including the two below. Lots of great tips here on changing the subject or “bridging” more tactfully than a presidential candidate and onboarding new clients for success. Happy reading!
7 Ways To Change The Subject More Effectively Than A Presidential Candidate
If you’ve watched any of the presidential debates, you’ve no doubt seen some bad examples of changing the subject. Whether the candidates completely ignore the question and talk about something unrelated or use an awkward transitional sentence, it’s uncomfortable and makes them look like they have something to hide.
You don’t have to be campaigning for president, however, to want to change the subject. Maybe you’re at a party and the conversation is getting old, or maybe you’ve been asked a question about a sensitive topic you don’t want to discuss. In public relations, changing the subject is called “bridging,” and communication experts say you can do it effortlessly if you follow a few steps:
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Certain phrases can change the flow when a topic ventures into a place that is uncomfortable. Amy Laski, president of the communications agency Felicity, trains clients on media interviews and high-pressure situations. She suggests using a phrase such as, “I can’t get into that, but what I can discuss is . . . ,” or, “Here’s the way I look at it . . . ,” or “That’s an interesting question, but I think the real question we need to ask is . . . ”
“Whatever you do, do not feel pressure to speak about topics outside your area of expertise,” she says. “It is better to say, ‘I’m not the best person to speak about that, but I would be pleased to connect you with the person who is,’ than to misrepresent yourself or your brand.”
How onboarding impacts client success
To make their lives easier, creative agencies should frontload their customer service efforts. By handholding clients through the onboarding process, agencies familiarize their customers with how they operate, what to expect, best practices for communication, and more. This helps agencies set the tone for future agency-client interactions. But, more importantly, this encourages clients to trust their vendor and avoid sabotaging their own success.
Companies everywhere can benefit when they employ a careful and comprehensive onboarding process. I spoke with several agency managers to see how their kickoff strategies have impacted the success of their client engagements. Below, I share their advice for establishing a successful onboarding process to improve agency-client relations and enhance the quality of each deliverable.
Confirming clients’ broader goals
Before an engagement starts, agencies need to know exactly how they can create lasting value for their clients. For PR shops, Amy Laski, president and founder of Felicity, a virtual communications agency, recommends, “Begin with the client’s overall business strategy and goals, NOT the communications goals. Your communications plans are a means to achieving the business goals, they are not the end in itself. Starting with the business goals in mind often leads to a different—more effective—communications approach.” Other businesses can apply this advice by tabling discussion about their proposed strategy and the granular details about their service offerings. Instead, during kickoff calls, they’ll want to ask pointed questions about their customer’s long-term goals to gather a firmer understanding of how they can actually assist.
Afterwards, Laski suggests, “Set your scorecard. Once you’ve established your plans, set out your metrics. How will you measure if your efforts have been successful? This opens up the conversation to make sure your expectations are on the same page. We have had clients who express at this stage they want to do things like have ‘their video to go viral’ and it’s better to have the discussion of what that means right up front, rather than in hindsight!” That way, agencies know exactly what it will take to advance customer goals and guarantee an ongoing relationship.