Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Prepping the Report 

The client report is an interesting exercise of agency work. One answers the "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" question. The challenge is figuring out how to report to one's best advantage. There are many ways to do it.

Sometimes a client will tell the agency what the client wants to see. Sometimes, it is left to the agency. I have been working on a report lately for a difficult situation -- a new leader at a client. This person took over recently, and we don't know him or his style. He wants a briefing of what we have been doing, and of course, we want to shine to the best advantage. But how does one do that? With a flashy presentation that has the bells and whistles of packaged PowerPoint or with a simple presentation that focuses on content and opens the meeting to discussion?

There is one answer to this question: Ask the client. One should never be afraid to query an audience about how the audience wants to receive information.

There is a tendency, however, for an agency not to ask that question, and this can be a mistake. The agency assumes one approach or another is good for the client because it is what the agency is accustomed to doing. It feels right. But what feels right to an agency may not be useful to a client. That is where I am in prepping the report for this client. The client stated in broad terms what he wants to see, but I'm not convinced his description is what I am writing. Frankly, what I am writing looks too much like the kind of report that we the agency want to see.

At some point, I'll find out whether I'm on course or not. I just hope it isn't until after the report has been delivered.


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