In any business transaction, relationships play an important part, but where a client contracts with a PR consultancy, the efficacy of that relationship will determine the collaboration's success.
We often read on this page about what makes a good consultancy, but conversely what makes a good client?
Top of my criteria is respect. This is something you simply must have in order to begin a successful client/consultant relationship.
If a client doesn't respect the consultant's experience and advice, the client is simply wasting time and money and should consider how else to spend that part of their marketing budget.
Closely linked to respect is mutual trust. The client has to trust the consultant to use their judgment wisely - after all, their reputation is in the consultant's hands - but the consultant must also trust implicitly the client's integrity.
For me, it is essential to know the veracity of a story before committing cursor to screen.
Can the company prove the quoted figures? Can it support its growth plans? Has it really secured that order?
The client must also trust the consultant to seek information from a range of people within the business. Often it's those at the sharp end who have access to the most interesting material on which to base a story.
Last in my top three criteria for a good client award is communication.
You might think this is primarily the responsibility of the consultant, but I disagree. By its nature, communication is a two-way street, and has to be embraced by both parties.
The client owes it to their consultant to keep them informed at all times, for without that flow of information the consultant will struggle to fulfil their side of the relationship.
A breakdown in communications will jeopardise the client/consultant relationship and it will also have more far reaching effects.
What some clients fail to appreciate fully is that PR consultants have two masters - the companies they work for and the journalists to whom they sell their client's stories.
On a daily basis, many of us are talking to journalists, promising to provide contributions to features, pitching ideas for articles or topical comment or simply following up news stories with further information or interview opportunities.
Journalists place their trust in those promises.
If, due to a lack of response from the client, the consultant is unable to fulfil his or her commitment to the journalist, everyone loses.
The journalist, because they have to find other material to fill a potential gap, the consultant because their credibility is diminished in the eyes of the journalist, and the client because they haven't seized the opportunity to raise their profile.
Consultants educate clients into the benefits of good external communications, but often fail to reinforce the importance of regular communications between client and consultant.
Perhaps we should introduce a "client of the year" category at next year's media awards. Which of your clients would be nominated?