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June 12, 2008
Getting to Know Potential Clients

I received an email earlier this week from an agency which sent me a list of questions to find out more about my business and practice before they have a conversation with me or any PR agency.  It got me to thinking. I’m asked all the time what processes I have in place to find out more about potential or new clients, aside from reading what’s on their websites or clips from a search engine. When evaluating potential or new clients there are several questions you should ask to gain information about them. These questions can help you delve a bit deeper into their business without revealing proprietary information, which the client may or may not want to disclose. 

  1. How long do you want your PR campaign to be?
  2. What are the products/services you offer?
  3. Who is your target customer?
  4. What is your target geographic area (local, regional, national, international)?
  5. What products/services do you offer in terms of industry trends?
  6. What makes your product/service unique?
  7. Who is your direct competition?
  8. Who do you consider to be #1 in your industry?
  9. What makes you better than your competition?
  10. Why should customers go with your product/service over your competition’s?
  11. Do you have any celebrity or other significant clientele endorsements?
  12. Have you ever donated your services?
  13. What magazines have you advertised in and were there results?
  14. What are the Top 25 media outlets (print, radio, TV, online) you’d like to be in?
  15. What do your customers read/watch/listen to?
  16. What is your press release approvals process and who is the primary contact for approvals?

Once you’ve retained the client, it helps to get to know the executives of the company by speaking with them individually and learning about them on a personal level. By doing this, you’ll get to know WHO makes the company tick and also create additional pitching ideas. (These are also good questions to ask when you’re in a networking environment; they allow for on-going conversation.) Questions (from the ordinary to the ridiculous) you might want to ask them include: 

  1. Please tell me about your family. (Single, married, married with kids, etc.)
  2. Do you have any pets?
  3. Are there any causes you strongly believe in? If so, why?
  4. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
  5. Do you belong to any online/offline networking groups?
  6. What was your very first job?
  7. What media do you read, watch or listen to?
  8. Who do you admire?
  9. What sports, board, or card games do you play?
  10. What’s your ideal vacation?
  11. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
  12. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given, and who gave it to you?

Of course, there are many more personal questions you can ask, if you think hard enough. Just don’t cross the “line” in getting too personal.   

So that’s usually a good start for me to get to know the company and the major players in it. If you have any additional questions you’d like to add, please feel free to comment below

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Jocelyn Brandeis is an accomplished and award-winning communications professional with more than 15 years experience in the entertainment, consumer, new media, B2B, Hispanic, and nonprofit industries. She is responsible for securing interviews and media placement and creating full PR campaigns. Since co-founding JBLH Communications, the client roster has included: National Lampoon Comedy House, Doggy Tug, Mandinez.com, Play Clay Factory, The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, and The Child Center of NY.

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