Minding Your Client's Business: Get To Know Your Clients - Two women sitting at a table talking and taking notes

In order to successfully share the key messages of our clients, we as PR professionals need to understand the inner workings of the companies or organizations that we are representing. Good communicators are familiar with the daily life of the businesses that they represent, ensuring better and more detailed marketing for clients. By having a deeper understanding of your clients, you can leverage opportunities as they arise. 

Get To Know Your Clients by Getting Involved 

You must know your clients well enough to identify what is newsworthy and relevant to share. No matter what type of businesses you work with, having intimate knowledge of a client is invaluable whether you are writing a press release, calling donors or sharing posts via social media. 

Get to know your clients by getting involved in what makes their business tick whether that is learning a new skill, earning a certification or taking a day to job shadow. Leave the office, roll up your sleeves and dive into whatever your clients are doing in order to represent them accurately and successfully. This type of involvement with our clients has been a hallmark of Marshall Communications since its founding in 1991. 

How We Discovered the Importance of Getting to Know Our Clients 

In Marshall Communications’ first year of operation, Northern Outdoors – a Maine outdoor adventure company – contacted our Founder and CEO Nancy Marshall to do their PR. Early on, participants joked that only other whitewater rafting guides really knew what their work was like. Nancy agreed, but instead of seeing this reality as a handicap to represent the guides, she turned it into a challenge. 

Soon after, Nancy enrolled in their raft guide training program. In 1993, Nancy completed the course, and became a certified whitewater rafting guide through the State of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. This training allowed her to have a significantly deeper understanding of the type of work she was hired to represent and share with the public. The Marshall Communications team has continued this practice, no matter what the industry. 

What You Can Do  

Earn a Certification Relevant to Your Client’s Work 

Like Nancy becoming a certified whitewater rafting guide, you can take classes or go through a whole course program to earn a better understanding of what your clients do every day. Not only will this be helpful for identifying areas of interest for the media, but it could also help your client with recruiting new employees if that is one of their goals.  

Become Your Client’s Customer 

Whether your client offers products or services, you can go through their sales funnel to see what makes their business different from others. Test the product, try the food or sign up for the services so you know what you are talking about when it comes time to promote your clients’ offerings.  

Schedule a Day To Visit and Observe Your Client 

Visit your client’s place of work so you can get a tour and see what they do firsthand. While you are there, take photos and notes that can be used for strategic planning, press releases and pitching, or social media.  

Conclusion  

While you may not be able to participate directly in the work of each client, it is critical to learn as much about them as possible, from the overall mission and differentiating characteristics, to the smallest tasks that make up the day-to-day. 

It isn’t enough to assume your client will tell you everything you need to know about them. As professionals, we have to take it upon ourselves to know our clients, or else we might fail to represent them accurately, to the best of our ability, or to notice a newsworthy opportunity to garner good PR. 

Learn as much as you can about your clients. If you don’t make the effort to get to know them, how can you encourage others to do so? 

FAQs 

Why is understanding the inner workings of our clients essential for PR professionals? 

Good communication in PR requires a deep understanding of the daily operations of the companies we represent, ensuring more detailed and effective marketing for our clients.  

How can PR professionals identify newsworthy content about their clients? 

To pinpoint what is relevant and newsworthy, PR professionals must intimately know their clients by actively participating in and understanding the intricacies of their businesses.  

What inspired the approach of getting personally involved with clients at Marshall Communications? 

The founder of Marshall Communications, Nancy Marshall, embraced the challenge of truly understanding her client, Northern Outdoors, by becoming a certified whitewater rafting guide, setting a precedent for deep client engagement.  

How can PR professionals gain a better understanding of their clients’ work? 

Earning a certification relevant to the client’s field or becoming a customer of their products or services are effective ways for PR professionals to gain insights and identify media-worthy aspects.  

Why is it important for PR professionals to physically visit and observe their clients? 

Visiting the client’s workplace, taking notes, and capturing images firsthand allows PR professionals to gather valuable content for strategic planning, press releases, and social media while fostering a deeper understanding of the client’s operations.