If your career in public relations spans a long enough period, you will eventually encounter the frustration of a stalled account. For whatever the reason, getting traction on an account is proving difficult.
The reasons for a stalled account can vary. You may be getting little direction from your client. The client may have no time for you, its agency. Or – let’s say it out loud – the client may be boring or have nothing newsworthy to share.
What do you do when things get stuck on an account? Here are five tips to help get your creative juices flowing and uncover something you can merchandise.
1. Spend time on your client’s website. Get in the habit of visiting your client’s website regularly, something we often overlook when an account is humming along. Checking them regularly serves as a great reminder of how your client presents itself to the outside world – and it can spark a PR-worthy idea when the well is running dry.
2. Identify your client’s number 1 business goal. If you think the reason your client is engaged in public relations is to “raise brand awareness,” do some more digging. Get to the essence of what they want to accomplish from a business standpoint. When you can answer that question, you have just placed yourself closer to the heart center of story ideas.
3. Ask for 15 minutes with your client’s top salesperson or producer. When you get her on the phone, ask her what’s keeping her clients awake at night. What’s the biggest trend she’s seeing among her customers? What’s the most unusual thing she’s seen recently in the marketplace? The closer you get to what customers are experiencing on the front line of your client’s industry, the closer you are to identifying a great story idea.
4. Visit the online newsrooms and blogs of your client’s competitors. This can be a treasure trove of ideas. Not only can you see what (if anything) your client’s competitors are up to in the way of PR, you can often find names of reporters and media outlets that cover the industry. Bonus!
5. Take your camera and go visit your client. Ask some basic questions – What’s the number one challenge facing customers in this industry? Where do you predict the industry will be in five years? What’s most likely to change in 2014? Somewhere in the responses you might find the germ of an idea that can become a news release, a pitch, or a blog post. If you get some good footage from your client, excerpt it and embed it in your next release.
These tips can’t cure a dysfunctional client relationship or replace good client direction. But they can provide a boost of creativity and a list of ideas when an account needs a jumpstart.
What do you do when an account gets stuck?