When a crisis hits, we of course think of ourselves and our families first as a natural reaction. We put our physiological needs and our safety first.
But for PR consultants, our first reaction for our clients is to protect their needs and give them the best shot at success in the future. Whether that’s by pivoting deliverables and helping them embrace a new way of working, or simply being available to them when they call, the one thing you need to build successful partnerships in a crisis is to change how you approach them.
And that requires a change in mindset.
Let us explain:
#1 Timing – It won’t always work in your favour
You might expect new business to take a linear pathway. You get the brief from the client, you recommend a strategy and deliverables, present your proposal and cost, the client deliberates and you either get a yes or no. If it is a yes, you would probably have made several changes in the scope of work and costing for the client to suit the new environment.
Generally speaking, that’s the way it works, but sometimes, you’ll hear radio silence after you’ve submitted a quotation, or you may not get a straight answer… for weeks or months.
This is normal in Malaysia. You might not know what’s happening behind the scenes, but sometimes the timing just isn’t right. Whatever the reason may be you’re not hearing back, it’s never a waste of time to stay in contact, or keep following up. In times of crisis, your regular communication could put you front of mind for new business.
#2 Flexibility – Be open to change within a short span of time
In times of crisis, circumstances are changing so rapidly that plans need to be altered overnight. Don’t be deterred by this; it’s actually a good thing. If stakeholders are willing to change things around to accommodate new circumstances, it means that the project is still a priority for them. Keep moving as fast as the situation allows and make sure you update your clients along the way.
#3 Persistence – Keep trying, even when things are difficult
The Recovery Movement Control Order in Malaysia is making it difficult for business to continue as usual. Most people are working from home or are on rotation at their offices – there’s fewer staff, budget cuts and smaller deals, but there are just as many businesses competing to close the deal. The way to win the client is to show them how passionate you are about their business. That could look like getting additional insights about their industry and sharing them, or perhaps you are able to connect the client to a stakeholder that’ll move the needle on a campaign that’s stalled. Whatever you do, be persistent and positive in your approach.
#4 Networking – There’s no wrong time to reach out
Prior to this pandemic, we had many other priorities than reaching out to make new connections and keep our network warm. We kept in touch less than we should, or only just enough. Right now, people are more open to contact because we’re all facing this crisis together, so don’t be deterred by the many phone calls received from potential clients. You have to start somewhere. If you’re in doubt, send that message. You never know when you’ll need that connection for a project or client.
The way we build relationships hasn’t changed, but COVID-19 is ushering in the opportunity to recreate our world, accelerating in the way we communicate to clients and potential clients. Approach new partnerships, whether that’s with a prospect, stakeholder or supplier with a positive mindset and over time you’ll see the results.
Let us know how we can tailor your communications strategy to suit these tough times — talk to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!