“My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions,” said Peter Drucker, the father of management consulting. Had we met Mr Drucker we’d probably have asked him “what are the right questions to ask in order to become a good consultant to our clients?” Unfortunately for us, Peter Drucker passed away 10 years ago – fortunately, FleishmanHillard organises the “FH Fundamentals” training every six months for young consultants from all over the EMEA region to get to know each other and further familiarise themselves with the values that make FH the best communications agency in the world.
But let’s cut to the chase – what are the five questions a communications and public affairs consultant should ask himself or herself in order to provide its clients with the best services?
- Do I have enough “face time” with my clients? Even if one works day and night on an account spending time face-to-face with their client will enrich the relationship and will enable to address issues that are to “sensitive” to be discussed over email.
- I am thinking creatively about my account? Beyond the day-to-day tasks it is very important to shake the status quo and present your clients with new ideas. All ideas are good – may they be big or small. At FleishmanHillard, we try to present our clients with one new idea a month – ambitious? Not at all, considering the diversity of expertise we have in our office.
- Is Twitter the be all and end all of communications channels? Not at all! Once our client’s communications objectives and messaging is approved there are a wide range of channels to disseminate messages in order to target the right audience. Think creatively – all your money doesn’t have to go to full page ads in media and all your energy doesn’t need to focus on advertorials!
- Is measuring results necessary? Yes – our clients are constantly connected and want to feel in control of the information they receive. Hence, measuring results is paramount to developing productive relationships with them. However, all measurement is not good measurement. Our objectives need to be clear and mutually agreed from the very beginning and data should be analysed in a relevant way to fit the client’s business and advocacy objectives.
- I’m a young consultant – does this mean I should be terrified of presentations? Quite the opposite! Make sure you know what your role is; don’t read out a script (last time someone read you a story was probably your mother trying to send you to sleep); focus on the audience’s needs; keep eye contact with EVERYONE in the room; interact with your audience by asking questions – and above all REHEARSE. Assuming you know your subject, simple steps are the key to minimizing the pre-presentation stress.
In the FH pyramid of training FH Fundamentals is the basis – as we know the basis is the most important part; it ensures stability. And for communications consultants having good bases is key to understanding our clients’ needs. We may have not drunk from the Holy Grail however we did ask ourselves some questions about our current accounts – now it’s up our managers to embrace our improved selves!
Building on Peter Drucker’s inspiring quotes, we too would like to contribute to the Consultant Hall of famous quotes, with a somewhat more impertinent twist to it.
For instance, young FH consultants like to say: “My colleagues are my best friends and my family at the same time.” What we mean: “I spend more time with my colleagues than with my friends and family combined.” Also heard: “I feel privileged to be exposed to such a high degree of expertise on a daily basis.” What that young and dynamic FH consultant actually means: “I can speak in acronyms for hours on end without ever feeling the need to rely on actual words.”
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