What is account management?
X Account management is not about power and status.
It is about performance and achievement (but needs good relationships to
Most account management roles are about control. Controlling budgets,
resources, the PR plan, the client and the account team. It’s a time intensive
role which requires the ability to step inside as well as outside the PR activity.
Make the role work for you
An account manager can’t do everything all of the time. It’s a bit like asking a
conductor to play the score of music all by themselves. Relationships are
Decide where to focus your energy by placing the following in order of priority:
Managing PR programme
Generating new business
Promoting company matters
Review these priorities regularly otherwise you’ll become complacent and
won’t develop yourself and others.
You’ll have to delegate up and down, so learn how to coach and develop
executives as well as push back to directors.
Implementing a strategy to grow business
Did you know? Time spent on account management can account for up to
half of an agency’s time! But great work with existing clients does not
necessarily make for a profitable account.
Manage your existing clients profitably before setting your sights on new ones
Having a clear contract which sets out what work is and is not included
and ensure that there is a clause that allows the agency to invoice for
Negotiate hard on payment terms – money in the bank now means
more profit than waiting three months for payment.
Tackle over servicing head on. Is it your own inefficiencies or an over
Have systems in place to manage how staff are spending their time
and be able to demonstrate this in a graph to client. Then find a way to
resolve the issue.
Use technology to automate time consuming administrative tasks, so
that agency time can be spent on achieving goals.
Tip: it’s much easier to grow business with existing clients than go through the
time consuming cycle of new business pitches.
Finding new clients
Look for clients who want solutions similar to those that you have provided to
Get the timing right and you can win business from the competition by being
in the right place at the right time with the right solution.
Network, network, network. People buy from other people and word of mouth
is everything in this business.
Tip: if you are spending a lot of time working on new business pitches, you’ll
send out the wrong signals to your account support team who might become
disinterested in working with existing clients.
Successful project management
The process is a complete circle with communication at the very heart.
Defining project/sharing a vision
Doing, delegating and motivating the team
Monitoring and managing expectations
Closure and feedback
The crucial stages are 1), 2) and 4). The others tend to look after themselves.
Are you and the client working towards the same goals? Clearly define the
project at the outset. Is the plan realistic in terms of achievables, budget and
timings? Have you thought through tiny details such as client or colleagues’
holiday? A good plan is essential, but has to be flexible too. If there’s a major
disaster on the same day as a PR news story is due to go out, do you have a
contingency in place?
Managing client expectations
Consultancy work involves juggling different clients and every client expects
themselves to be the account team’s priority. Often it is those clients who
shout loudest who gain the lion’s share of an Account Manager’s time!
Smart Account Managers find out what motivates their clients and find the
shortest path to achieving the outcome that they really want.
Did you know that every project has three key drivers:
Every driver is important, but not equally so. So use open questions and
active listening to find out what’s really important for the client and project.
Dealing with difficulties
1. Act the chameleon by adapting your people style to others’ styles to help
negate any personality clashes/ find common ground.
Handle dominant, goal driven people by keeping written material brief,
be results-focused and assertive.
Handle dramatic, excitable types by showing enthusiasm and keep
them interested by injecting new ways of solving problems.
Handle nice, friendly people by getting to know them personally and
work in partnership to solve problems.
Handle formal, thinking types by being business-like, follow step by
step procedures and prepare fully.
2. Use assertiveness
Even if you don’t feel it – act assertive.
55 per cent of what is said is picked up by body language, 38 per cent by
voice and only 7 per cent by words – so there’s no point pondering over
assertive words when your tone of voice and body language can convey it
3. Learn how to push back by:
Questioning the priorities
Discussing possible risks and alternatives
Or if these fail, then take responsibility for the project, but get
agreement that you will redirect it to someone else and oversee it.
By Maud Davis FCIPR
Maud is a PR consultant and CIPR approved trainer, who splits her time
between running high profile media campaigns and delivering training. She
has over 20 years experience in running and managing accounts whilst
working at small, medium and global consultancies including Hill and
Knowlton, Richmond Towers and Nexus. Today, she specialises is managing
media relations driven accounts, where three of her campaigns have picked
up PR awards, working for Sopexa UK and Ceres PR. She has been training
with the CIPR for over six years and is course leader on the CIPR Advanced
Certificate and serves on the CIPR Marcomms committee.
Want to learn more about Account Management?
Find out more about the CIPR’s ‘Account Management’ workshop run by
Maud Davis at www.cipr.co.uk/courses/account-management.
Downloading and reading this guide is worth 5 CIPR CPD points. Find out
more about CIPR CPD at www.cipr.co.uk/CPD