Trust is key to PR professionals

Have you ever wondered why clients listen to some professionals more than others? Let’s say, you had a brilliant idea for your client and you were unsure if you should take it to the client for fear of being shot down, and you wanted one particular person to do it because the client listened to him/her? Or when there was a mess-up by your team and you wanted this one person to give the client the bad news because you knew that the client would not make a scene because of this one person? If you’ve noticed these, why do you think it happens? Why do clients listen to this one person more than others? Although this one person may not even be a CEO or VP or MD. Why?

Among various other reasons, here’s the most simple reason. Trust. It may sound like a simple word, but trust you me, it doesn’t come easy. Its tougher to build trust in PR than in most other professions. And why is this trust so difficult to achieve? Because it requires a demonstrated capability of experience, knowledge, street-smartness and resourcefulness. Really heavy sounding words behind the oh-so-simple word called trust. Once this trust is developed between a PR professional and the client, this man will enjoy client’s support even if he commits murders.

But building your client’s trust takes some doing. No, not years or months or weeks because this stuff isn’t time dependent. It’s dependent on the number of times you’ve delighted the client with your work. Its about the number of times you’ve rescued your client from crisis. Its about the number of times you’ve stopped the client from making a PR blunder. And its also the number of times you’ve done things a client hasn’t paid you to do. But you’ve done it nonetheless and amazed the client with the results.

This is a trust that does not automatically come with time. It only comes from ‘demonstrated capabilities’. Its not even restricted to senior professionals with loads of experience. It may come easier to seniors, but I’ve seen executives with one, two years in the job create a trust for themselves purely with their zest for showing great results. I’ve seen clients not wanting to talk to the seniors of an agency team, because they found more value in these executives. So, believe me when I say, that you don’t have to be a senior for your clients to trust you and look up to you. What you need is a zest to demonstrate great results. Repeatedly.

If you’re able to do this, you’ll cement your place faster than anyone else. You’ll rise quickly and dramatically because your employers would not want to waste your time in minor stuff that others can do. For them, that would be waste of a very valuable resource. For the same reasons, and much to your delight, you’ll do well in business development. Clients will want to pay exorbitant fees to have you working on their account. Most of the top agencies today charge a premium because of a set of similar people they have on their payroll.

The aim of this piece is to tell all of those who think they’ve to learn a lot before they can start making strategies and present brilliant PR ideas – you’re so wrong. Don’t stop yourself from doing something a human mind is designed to do – thinking. And of course, acting. Delivering delightful PR results is not subject to seniority. Truly speaking, if you think you’re not senior enough to deliver quality results, chances are you won’t be able to deliver what an executive is supposed to!


Aarif Malik
Mumbai. INDIA.
Cell: +91 9833934002


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