“Just the Facts” Is Not Going to Cut It

Your Customers Rely On You For Expert Counsel, So Deliver!

This is from a guest post I wrote for Erica Moss, one of my favorites from my Detroit years. Like me, Erica was a journalist before transitioning to public relations and marketing. She is the social brand manager for Semester Online at 2U. A version of this post appeared on her personal blog earlier this year.

Slow Down by shmooth
Slow Down, a photo by shmooth on Flickr.

Throughout your career (and your personal life), you’re going to run into some not-so-nice people. Thankfully, the overwhelming percentage will be nice, but you have to be ready for the nots.

I admit I can be a little thin-skinned. I’ve come a long way, but sometimes, if I get a particularly abrupt email, I take a a few minutes before responding. We all know that email can erase tone, so you need to be careful you’re not misinterpreting how the message is intended. Often a quick call will provide all the clarity both parties need to stay on-track.

My skin was still pretty thin when I had a supervisor who had pretty poor communication skills among her staff. She could be very cold and dismissive, and many of our meetings were miserable. However, working for that person made me much stronger. I was able to take away the best things she taught me, shedding the negativity that often surrounded those lessons.

One of the biggest takeaways was this: When something blows up, big or little, don’t just alert your client. Reporting the facts quickly and accurately is necessary, but you can’t stop there. Make sure you’re delivering good counsel. What do you suggest as the next steps?

This is embedded so deeply in my professional DNA, I don’t even think about it, but I realized recently that it’s not the case for everyone in marketing and communications industry.

Someone posted a negative comment on one of my client’s social media channels. I realized as I talked through the situation with the SM manager that my golden rule was not on his radar yet. He shared what he planned to tell the client, and I talked to him about the value of his expertise — the client didn’t have the SM knowledge he had, and needed to hear his suggestions.

He and I had a very positive conversation, and his follow-up to the client was well-written. The client accepted his advice without hesitation. I was excited he got that great feedback. I hope this means he’ll make this one of his golden rules, too.

When things are flying hot and heavy, we can get caught up in quick email or text conversations with our clients and throw out information without contributing our real value as communications experts. It’s worthwhile to slow down and make sure we’re talking solutions. That’s why they hired us!

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