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Five Tips to Achieve Long-Lasting Client Satisfaction and Retention

Written by Jackie Gerbus

Long-term clients are the best way to build strong relationships, achieve revenue stability and obtain new business referrals without even trying. While retention is something every agency strives for, in this day and age, there’s no denying it can be hard. In fact, research shows that the average number of years a client/agency relationship lasts has declined steadily over the past several decades – from 7.2 in the 1980s, to 5.3 in the 90s, to 3.2 today.

Despite this downward trend, achieving long-lasting client retention is possible – but it requires the right mix of program elements (centered around client satisfaction), along with hard work and a positive attitude. With this in mind, here are a few client satisfaction and retention tips that have worked for me.

1. Build proactive PR programs.

Being proactive is perhaps the single most impactful thing you can do to secure client satisfaction and retention. I like to enter each PR engagement pretending my clients will have no news and no customers, because this pushes me to build proactive programs that always having a pitch in play.

Proactive ideas can be whatever you want – trend pitches, source pitches, rapid response pitches, byline ideas, podcast or Q&A interview ideas. If you think it’ll work for your client, give it a shot – don’t be afraid to try new things. The beauty of proactive pitches is that, in many cases, they are evergreen – so you can slot them in whenever there is a lull in hard news.

2. Be resourceful.

Establishing a cadence of interesting proactive pitches takes work, but there are some surefire strategies to keep the creative juices flowing. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Schedule internal brainstorm calls with your account team, as well as external brainstorms with your client so you can hear what’s on the minds of experts.

  • Examine the backgrounds of your subject matter experts and pull out interesting aspects for PR pitches. Leveraging thought leaders’ backgrounds to grab reporters’ interest and build source credibility can go a long way.

  • Repurpose existing assets, whenever possible – for example, blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, newsletters, etc. Webinars, LinkedIn Live sessions and podcasts also can make for good pitch fodder. Every piece of content your client produces has the potential to be a PR asset.

3. Make the most of subject matter expert commentary.

Anytime a thought leader takes the time to provide commentary for PR purposes, I try to find some way to make it land. I want to repay them for taking time out of their busy day and demonstrate the value of doing so.

For example, let’s say your client provides commentary for an opportunity, but didn’t get quoted in the article. Rather than wasting the commentary, turn it into a proactive pitch. Or maybe you went out with a pitch that didn’t land any interviews – transform it into a byline abstract. If you can’t get any bites from the media on that, turn the content into a blog post.

4. Take the burden off your client.

Companies hire PR firms so they can offload some of their internal responsibilities – and we need to live up to the job by taking the burden off our clients. Being proactive and resourceful are great ways to do this – but it’s just the start. There are many other ways to take some pressure off your clients, such as maintaining a commitment to delivering superior results, delivering assignments ahead of deadlines, staying organized so nothing falls through the cracks, and always submitting quality work.

5. Bring the personality.

You’ve heard the saying, “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.” Well, this applies to client relationships, too. If it’s all business, all the time, it’s just not possible to build strong relationships – because the human element is missing, and your clients are people, too.

Keeping things fun can go a long way toward client satisfaction, and bringing a personal touch to the account is actually a very effective way of showing your clients you care not only about their business, but about them.

These are some client satisfaction and retention tips that have worked for me, and I hope they are helpful for you, too! If you want to chat, you can reach me at


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