A few weeks ago, I was dealing with a roof leak -- again. My roofer had been out too many times to count and still could not pinpoint the problem. Finally, out of desperation, I brought in a fresh set of eyes (a handyman) who figured out the problem within 10 minutes.
Rather than pay my handyman to fix it, I called the roofer back (we were still under warranty), explained what we had discovered and told him what needed to be done. Unfortunately, he chose his own solution and a day later my roof was leaking ...again! Needless to say, the roofer was back out the next day to do what was initially requested of him, thus solving the problem.
It’s important to understand this was not a one-time thing. The roofer had been out so many times I began to dread calling him. I also was afraid I would void my warranty or have to pay someone else to do what he should have done all along, so I kept him coming back.
Having dealt with the situation for so long and having tried everything else to fix it, at this point I was in a better position than anyone else to know what was wrong. The roofer, on the other hand, was the professional and felt that he, not I, knew best. For me, it caused nothing but frustration. For him, it cost valuable time, which in turn, cost him money.
What does this have to do with business? Everything. Listening to clients is an important part of doing business. Granted, as public relations professionals, we are hired to do a job because of our expertise. But too often we don’t take the time to listen to what our clients want or need.
I once worked with a public relations “expert” who would walk into a meeting and immediately tell potential clients exactly what they needed even before taking the time to learn about their business, understand their goals or determine how best to accomplish them.
That is not to say we should let our public relations clients tell us how to do our jobs. Instead, we need to take the time to listen to them and then create a game plan that allows us to accomplish those goals. Your clients know their business better than anyone. If you combine that knowledge with your knowledge of public relations, you are creating a much more positive experience for everyone involved.
Listening is a skill that needs to be developed. Clients want to feel valued and obtaining their input is one way to make that happen. And, as in the case of the roofer, it may save you valuable time and money down the road. Not to mention, you will have a more satisfied client.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. In addition to public relations, she provides web content writing, press releases, social media, photography and videography. She has two daughters, three golden retrievers and two cats.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.