An introduction to Client Relationship & Management (Citrine One PR) & two important concepts

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The practitioner that is to be discussed today is Citrine One PR, a communication agency in Malaysia that offers four areas of media and marketing communications expertise which are strategic marketing communications consultancy, public relations and media relations consultancy, content writing services and event management services.

Citrine One PR has been in the Public Relations scene in Malaysia for a close 13 years and have managed to establish themselves as one of the few reputable public relation firms. Citrine One PR has various sorts of clients, some household names include Tony Romas, Canon, British American Tobacco, Pirelli, Friendster, University of Southampton and more (click here to view). Dealing with a plate full of organisations who requires different sorts of communications needs, Citrine One PR demonstrates how they manage their relationship with each client.

The first concepts I will be discussing is market/competition in communication services and services marketing. 

WHY DID I CHOOSE THIS?

  • Competition exists in every market. Communication services is no exception. Striving to sustain it’s position as a top agency in the communication industry is becoming more challenging in Malaysia due to a consistent supply of services to the public consumer. Hence, I think this topic of discussion is relevant to my case study as I have experienced the competitiveness of it while interning for Citrine One PR.Services marketing is a large portion of what public relations is made of and I think Citrine One PR agency has significant experience in this sector.

WHY ARE THEY RELEVANT?

  • A lot of start-up companies, small business enterprises and large organisations in Malaysia are acknowledging the importance of brand image and the relevance of brand footprint. Committing themselves to professional consultants of marketing and communication services providers will definitely ensure a more positive reflection on their targeted success in their respective markets. Due to the alarming demand for public relations management in the last 10 years, this has indefinitely led to a competitive platform for the agencies to increase their level of professionalism and understand  that the public relations scene in Malaysia is shifting to being more aggressive. This topic is relevant to Citrine One PR’s role in the industry as they were considered as a handful of the pioneers in the PR industry in Malaysia. In recent times, they have faced fiercer and stronger competitors. Hence, this justifies the relevance of this matter to be discussed with more clarity below.

The second concept is client acquisition and retention.

WHY DID I CHOOSE THIS?

  • Client Acquisition and Retention is considered vital for agency business and this area was worth having an analytic discussion over as Citrine One PR has valuable experience in this subject.

  WHY ARE THEY RELEVANT?

  • What makes up most of an agencies revenue? Clients who have been acquired by the practitioner . Therefore, preserving a professional client-agency relationship is key. Keeping a good client with your agency not only guarantees a flow of income but a reputation worthy of integrity and trust in the industry. Citrine One PR has been able to retain it’s clients…
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Discussing Market/Competition in Communication Services and Services Marketing in relation to Citrine One PR

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MARKET/COMPETITION IN COMMUNICATION SERVICES 

There are various in-house and local media agencies in Malaysia and this accumulates to an amount of market competition amongst the agencies. Being an agency that offers a variety of communication services, Citrine One PR has managed to sustain it’s position in the industry through the loyalty of their clients as well as having a team of practitioners who are committed to bringing in new clients.

“It is even more competitive now more than ever as we are witnessing a market change.”

Citrine One PR deals in a business-to-business market, managing clients from the food industry, I.T industry, property, banking, pharmaceutical and healthcare and consumer and entertainment. The agency has to adapt to different styles of management as well as churn out innovative campaign ideas to keep the client impressed.

“We try to examine market trends on a consistent basis and monitor the progress of the industry so that when we approach our client, we have enough resources and ideas to convince them of our plans and goals for their vision.”

“Currently, there is inclination towards online marketing and social media plays a role in helping us help our client reach some of their targeted audience.”

Recently, digital communications and marketing is becoming more significant in Malaysia. Citrine One PR has hopped on the bandwagon and hired a online media manager that identifies and manages Citrine One PR’s clientele’s online activity and promotion.

“ We are just looking to be better in all client management aspect because the competitiveness of the market is solely pushing and motivating the agency to strive in excellence,” Clara Chin, senior account manager at Citrine One PR, exclaims.

SERVICES MARKETING

seo-marketing-servicesCitrine One PR practices business-to-business (B2B) marketing on a large scale. Often, they operate by trying to give their clients the most value that potentially creates the most demand.

“We are very upfront with our clients by briefing them with most information at all times so that there is a trusting relationship and mutual understanding between both parties.”

“Citrine One PR prioritises value as their focus is on ensuring and hoping the client attains more than what they signed up for.”

“Our professionalism, industrial knowledge and attitude is our prized asset and we do not hold back when we market ourselves as an agency,” Clara adds.

Citrine One PR offers marketing  and strategic communications and has been known to clients to be excellent in providing optimum media coverage.

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Discussing Client Acquisition and Retention in relation to Citrine One PR

CLIENT ACQUISTION

photoClientManagementCitrine One PR acquires both private and government organisations. It has been stated that the agency uses different manners of approach when deciding to acquire each type of organisation. Dealing with government organisations requires the practitioner to have more dealings with the panel of board members who assesses the credibility and potential of the agency. There are more billings, more reports and they are the harder client to acquire than most private organisations. The government officials will have to accept on their terms of trusting the agency with their information, negotiations and contracts. However, if acquisition of a government account is successful and given a consistent job is done in the following of the client-agency relationship, the government organisation will choose to remain with the agency for a long period of time. PEMANDU (Performance Management and Delivery Unit), a government unit in Malaysia, have chosen Citrine One PR’s services for over a decade and has even recommended other governmental departments to consider Citrine One PR as a viable agency.

In acquiring a client, Clara explains that position plays an influence in the final decision of the agency’s intended client. Moreover, having some affiliations with agencies abroad in which Citrine One PR has, and an extensive portfolio of clients confirms to the client that the agency has substance and will be able to carry them forward in their vision of their organisation.

According to Clara, understanding client behaviour and catering to their needs is vital.

Having dealt with various sorts of clients who expect different sorts of expertise and commitment from your team, there is definitely that pressure to deliver the results and at the same time not making too many mistakes along the way,” Clara adds.

RETENTION

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Citrine One PR places emphasis on putting in effort in retaining a client. Looking at a long-term client-agency relationship can motivate the agency to be more efficient and improve on their performance. The agency will also be able to have a deeper understanding of the dynamics of their client, be it creative or corporate.

“Usana Health Sciences has been our client for 7 years and every year we manage their large medical conferences held in Singapore. It is not an easy feat but we gain a lot of international exposure along with managing that yearly event so it’s a real win-win for us, having them associate themselves with us boosts our profile in the industry.”

“Citrine One PR offers Usana a consistent good rate and services them with respect and trust and we think that is very important in keeping a client.”

It is beyond important to discuss with the client the expectations of their intended outcomes. It is also the agency’s role to identify the right value for the client. The practitioner representing the agency has to also make the client understand the worth of their investment with the agency.

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Citrine One PR in relation to Key Findings in Academic Literature

Market competition is ever present hence competitive intelligence is a relevant public relations management tool that can help an agency stand out under the pressure of a information-intensive communication environment (Penoyer, 2002). Having a deeper insight into the client’s business strategy and goals can guarantee your agency is one up compared to the rest out there. The goal of competitive intelligence in public relations is to create better informed communication programs and make strategic decisions about those programs. Citrine One PR consistently look to motivate their practitioners to challenge themselves in order to achieve more outstanding results while dealing with their clients.

In regards to the discussion of services marketing , Citrine One PR practices integrated marketing communications with it’s clients. They have encountered upon clients who are opinionated that agencies do not need to go through with integrated marketing communications and that it is over-priced to employ people of different media specialisation to fulfil one job. This can be justified with  Novelli’s (1989) statement that IMC is clearly in the best interests of the client as it is a genuine integration that can help clients save costs in terms of marketing dollars and gain effectiveness from the concentration of power from PR, advertising, promotion and direct marketing.

At times, acquiring a client may be tougher than managing a client as the agency has to sell it’s qualities to it’s potential customer. Burger (1972) proclaims in the Public Relations Quaterly that agencies should consider having counsellors on board when pitching to a potential client as counsellors understand the psychology critique when analyzing the client’s organization background and past business and public relations dealing. Citrine One PR do not have a specific counsellor in their agency, however they do carry out specific analysts that tests or identify the client’s inclination and response towards the acquisition process.

In retaining a client for agency, Citrine One PR senior account manager Clara Chin states that developing trust while having a professional client-agency relationship is the key to whether the client chooses to stay or choose another agency’s services. “Citrine One PR works to provide a comfortable yet respectable working relationship at all times in order to gain credibility as well as the client’s trust, Clara says.” As Chia (2005)explains, mutual understanding between partners in the relationship is ideal as building trust can be fragile and difficult. Two way symmetric communication of which trust and disclosure are a part, should be the goal of public relation practice.

In conclusion, client acquisition and retention plays a large role in determining an agencies success in monetary terms and credibility in the industry. Furthermore, services marketing is driving many agencies in current times and practicing ethical and professional practices is always the key to being outstanding in the ever competitive market.

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Client Relationship References

Primary/Secondary References

1)Chin, C 2013, ‘E-mail interview with representative from Citrine One PR’, Gmail, viewed 18 September 2013.

2) Citrine One PR 2013, ‘Citrine One Clients, Services, News & Events’, viewed 20 September 2013. <www.citrineone.com/v2/about.php>

Academic References

1)      Novelli, WD 1989, ‘One Stop Shopping : Some Thoughts on Integrated Marketing Communications’, Public Relations Quaterly, 34,4, p.7, Communication and Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 22 September 2013.

  • William D. Novelli explains the core advantage of practicing integrated marketing communications in public relations. Novelli also progressively demonstrates how clients react to IMC. Novelli provides insight on ways to convince clients how the integration of all sectors can be beneficial to the client and their business.

2)Penoyer, R 2002, ‘KNOW THE COMPETITION’, Communication World, 19, 6, p.16, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 22 September 2013.

  • Ron Penoyer demonstrates that competitive intelligence should be prioritized in public relations and hopes practitioners will be receptive to practicing it. Penoyer proves through the study of business and PR in the conducted survey that adapting and implementing constant competitive intelligence will allow the practitioner to achieve more for the client.

3)Chia, J 2005 ‘Is trust a necessary component of relationship management’, Journal of Communication Management 9.3, p.277-285, ProQuest, Emerald Management Extra, viewed 22 September 2013

  • Joy Chia presents findings of a study in relationship management in public relations practice. Conducting an Australian study which investigates client-agency relationship, it is shown that trust can assist in the development and maintenance of relationships when understood and valued in the same way by clients and their public relations consultant.

4)Weiss, A 2002, ‘How to acquire clients; Powerful techniques for the successful practitioner’, Reference and Research Book News 17.3, ProQuest, Emerald Management Extra, viewed 22 September 2013

  • Andy Weiss introduces a handful of techniques that can help the practitioner in acquiring the intended client. Weiss explains each technique with close relevance to public relations and client management and backs up his argument with two case studies. Weiss offers his opinions on the types of clients an agency should acquire.

5)Burger, C 1972, ‘The New Challenges in Client Relations’, Public Relations Quaterly, p.22-25, Communication and Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 22 September 2013

  • Chester Burger discusses the legitimacy of PR practitioners and the role of agencies monitoring the quality of practitioners to deal with potential clients. Burger also states that counselors in agencies should be given more authority and priority when acquiring a client as they may have more influential power to win over the client.
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Digital Influence in a Crisis

The Impact of Blogging and Online Influencers image HiRes 595x1024Is blogging the answer?

Many people have gained large fan followings and have built great social authority as bloggers.

Bloggers are online influencers who may affect how one perceives a happening or situation that emerged. They help to build social capital across strategic platforms across the web. Critical bloggers have the power of analyzing, engaging and managing key influencers as well as using the intelligence captured to position competitively for success in crisis.

Responding to a reputation threat can be more damaging than ignoring the issue, many websites and bloggers took to the online public sphere to share ThinkGeek’s April Fool’s prank of jokingly launching ‘Radiant Farms Canned Unicorn Meat’ which had the slogan of ‘Unicorn, the new white meat’. A month later, the National Pork Board which has used the slogan of ‘the other white meat’ for advocating pork the last 20 years issued a desist letter citing trademark infringement. ThinkGeek apologized but published an article on their blog, publicizing National Pork Board’s legal actions and offered discounts for online sales using the word PORKBOARD.

The blog post became immediate news and received coverage from news sites. The story was then posted and re-posted on thousands of Web pages and blogs mocking National Pork Board with headlines like ‘Pork Board Squeals Over Unicorn Meat’, ‘Unicorn Gag “Apology” Roasts Pork Board’ and ‘Pork Industry Makes Hash Out of Unicorn Meat’.

The organization sought to protect its brand and reputation thereafter.

Through the influence of bloggers and the web, the instant global exposure of a brand or organization is so easily manipulated and determined.

The media used to determine whether the information it received was newsworthy and credible and, if it was published, the audience had little opportunity to respond. The Internet however has changed that ‘one-to-many’ model and today peer media platforms such as blogs, social networking sites and virtual worlds mean that group discussion is replacing ‘one to many’ broadcasting.

The latest Horse Meat Scandal gained plenty of attention on the blogging sphere as people are questioning and speculating the authenticity of the meat they consume.

However, the authenticity of blogger’s insights are questionable too. Being quite uncontrollable and vast in numbers, bloggers are a force to be reckoned with.

Do you agree that bloggers are influential?

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Be Crisis Ready

Airline crisis can be hectic and disastrously scary

Regardless of whether the crisis is something the airline did to itself, an uncontrollable natural phenomenon or a strike, in today’s increasingly connected world, social media has proven to be the crisis management tool and has been used successfully by both airlines and airports in a wide range of scenarios.

There is always a need to reach large numbers of people as quickly as possible, providing information and answering their questions and avoiding the spread of false rumors. -Serusi,M.

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Comparison between Tiger Airways and Qantas Airways

In 2011, Tiger Airways suffered a setback when they were grounded by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Furious consumers slammed the airline through social media and posted comments about the lack of communication they had received.  Judging by the intensity of the situation, Tiger did not embrace customer out-lash on social media and chose to deal with it approximately 3 days later. Clearly, this unwise move was costly as the damage had been done.

Qantas’s social media team initiated a twitter competition which backfired. Using the hashtag #Qantasluxury created by Qantas , twitter users lashed out and trended the topic, making a joke out of Qantas. The campaign was quoted to be a ‘PR disaster’ and showcased poor brand management.

Would you agree that Tiger Airways and Qantas Airlines both miscalculated their timing in the happenings of current events?

How could this crisis be managed more effectively?

Social media is the place where an increasing percentage of users go to complain and seek information when a crisis occurs.

Tiger should have immediately jumped onto their Facebook and Twitter sites to manage and confront the incoming posts and comments rather than putting it aside and acknowledging it so much later. Judging from their lack of interactivity on Facebook, they should be more consistent in updates.

Qantas should have analyzed and caught a better timing of having their twitter competition or rather use a different social media platform to engage and connect with their users.

The role social media plays during a crisis management cannot be underestimated.

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