The importance of being there (wherever “there” is)

If you’re getting into PR, you’d better have a car.

Traveling for clients might not be a regular occurrence for everyone in the industry, but if you’re working with clients in different geographic locations, occasionally you’ll need to take a road trip. Whether it’s across the city, the state or the globe, being there for a client sometimes means literally being there. At ECPR, this is one of the ways we go above and beyond to deliver results for the clients we serve.

Muhlberg’s client work has taken her to various Texas cities just in the last two months.

Over the past few months, I’ve become a regular on the road. In March, I spent an entire workweek traversing East Texas to meet clients at various engagements where I saw firsthand how helpful being there in the flesh is, rather than making it work with a phone or video call. Providing support for clients as they speak at an event or are interviewed by the media is one of the main functions of the job. If a client feels well prepared and supported, they’ll be more comfortable in front of an audience or TV camera. And––it should come as no surprise––a comfortable person will have an easier time appropriately conveying the awesome work their company is doing.

Aside from benefiting the client, traveling for work has often helped remind me how interesting and unexpected the world of public relations can be. From visiting a spice factory in the tiny Texas town of Devine to a quick trip to Corpus Christi amid lots of wind (a beautiful sunset was my reward), getting to visit the areas my clients are directly serving helps put into context the work that I’m doing at my desk in Austin. Writing a press release about a grant check presentation in Lufkin might give me a decent idea of the work my client is doing in the area, but driving through the pine trees of East Texas and meeting the stakeholders who benefit from the grant gave me a fuller grasp on the best way to tell my client’s story. Ok, so the pine trees weren’t necessary for storytelling, but they were certainly a welcome sight on the road!

While every day in PR is different, some daily tasks and routines are easy to fall into on the quest to provide consistent, excellent client service. This isn’t inherently a bad thing (and I would argue that some element of routine helps keep things from slipping through the cracks), but it’s also natural to want to shake things up sometimes. Traveling for a client, especially if it’s to a place I’ve never been before, brings a fresh perspective and renewed energy to my work. I’m better able to generate creative ideas and stories to tell when I’ve seen their work in a new environment.

Part of working at ECPR means we are often the “boots on the ground” for clients, across the state, every week. Being there––wherever “there” is––solidifies client relationships and builds trust. Even if your grand adventure only takes you to a new building down the street, showing up and paying attention to the new stories you can tell is an important part of serving clients in an innovative, thoughtful way.

Emily Muhlberg is an account associate with ECPR.

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