Ah, kick-off meetings. If you’ve spent a few years in PR, you’ve probably had your fair share of good and bad kick-off meetings. A good one is worth every minute spent in the room, but a poor one can feel like a waste of hours. The good news is you have the power to get what you need out of any kick-off. It’s all about setting up the right agenda and asking the right questions. A solid kick-off meeting can truly set your team up for success. But what makes a kick-off meeting “solid”?
Here are some of the touch points we recommend including in every kick-off meeting.
An agenda. Have an agenda in place prior to the meeting. This will keep everyone on task and keep the meeting productive. Ideally, you should send your initial agenda draft to your client in advance so that they can add any other items they’d like to cover. This way everyone has an idea of what to expect going into the meeting and can prepare accordingly. That agenda will include the items we’re about to discuss in 3 … 2 … 1 …
Introductions. A cliché meeting starter, but it’s important to introduce everyone who will be working on the account, both on the account side and the client side. Each member of your team should introduce themselves and let the client know what their role will be in the team. If there are members of your team not in attendance, make note of their roles on their behalf. This sets a clear picture as to whom the client can count on for specific areas of the count. Have a social media question? Go to Suzy. Have a media relations question? Check with Ryan. The same goes for understanding who is the go-to person for certain items on the client side. Is there a person who in charge of executive schedules who will be your main coordinator for media briefings? Is there a go-to person for legal issues? You get the idea. As obvious as this step is, it will help pave the road to a smoother future of communication; one that avoids emails on top of emails forwarding you to the right person.
A 101 on Your Client’s Business. Welcome to the primary focus of any kick-off meeting. In order to be able to fulfill your job as a PR team, you’ll need a full download on your client’s business – or at least the portion you’ll be working on. What’s their overall mission? What differentiates them from competitors (and who are those competitors)? If you’re working with a specific product, a demo is always helpful to give you a visual on how it works and why it’s valuable. Make sure you’re up to speed on any upcoming launches you’ll be on task to help with. Get a feel for their target audiences – who do they currently sell to and who do they want to reach? And of course, get a rundown of their previous marketing and PR initiatives. What’s worked? What hasn’t? Do they have strong relationships with particular media that the team should be aware of? Are there certain industry events that are must-attends (or that are hosted by the company themselves)?
Arm yourselves with the information you need to succeed.
The vision. Coming into the meeting, you’ll already have an understanding as to what you’ll be working on for the client. Even so, ask them what their vision is for your new relationship. Is it to boost earned media? Is it to help bring in more customer leads or to jumpstart their social programs? How do they foresee your team working with their own? It’s important that both sides communicate their expectations – and if needed, make sure the expectations are realistic. If things are miscommunicated or left undiscussed, it could lead to a bumpy road where deliverables are different than what was expected. All in all, being on the same page will help shape the program’s goals which will in turn help piece together your plan of attack.
Deliverables & timelines. Be clear on what initial next steps are. When can the client expect the initial 90-day plan? Will there be weekly calls to touch base on activity? Will you be sending monthly reports? Have a clear timeline for immediate and regular deliverables, so both parties know when to expect things.
All in all, you should leave your kick-off meeting feeling prepared to start the program on the right foot. Go forth and conquer!
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