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The Dreaded ‘Hiatus’ and 3 Tips on How to Handle it

When your client tells you they want to go on hiatus, you immediately get a sinking feeling in your stomach. Maybe slight relief if it’s been a challenging client but also a feeling of loss or disappointment. Thoughts about whether they are really coming back start to take over while trying to stay positive, convincing yourself that the term ‘hiatus’ really is just a ‘pause’ – by definition.   This is part of the PR roller coaster, a ride that we have been on time and time again. Having ridden this ride before, I’ve learned a thing or two about not only handling the situation but also ensuring that hiatus is truly a pause and not the end of the relationship. Here are three tips to handle the aftermath of that dreaded ‘hiatus’ conversation.   1. Be and stay professional. The second your client tells you they want to go on hiatus, odds are, you should probably steer clear from your initial reaction to get angry or ask ‘what did I do wrong.’ First and foremost, you want to leave your emotions at the door, be professional and understanding of their situation. Second, most offer you reasons why the hiatus is taking place (not always honestly), but in the event they don’t tell you why, you should ask in order to understand their situation and respond appropriately. Third, with kindness and sincerity in your voice, and the utmost professionalism, you offer to make the transition as seamless as possible for them. Even if that means for another agency or consultant hired as your replacement. Fourth, list the items that you will work on in the final time of working together and tell them that you hope to work with them again soon and to keep in touch.   Utilizing these steps in this situation can eliminate awkwardness and keep a good lasting relationship. And remember, a good relationship, whether working together or not, can lead to more business down the road – either with them at another company or through referrals.   2. Touching base. Although payment ends when a client goes on hiatus, don’t let that stop you from touching base with them from time to time with useful information. Of course you don’t want to spend a ton of time but it can’t hurt to let them know you are thinking of them and keep you ‘top of mind.’ If you see an article they should read or something about a competitor, let them know. It’s important to maintain the relationship and remind them that you are still their trusted partner always looking out for them. If you immediately think of hiatus as a full blown departure for good and go radio silent, you can be sure they will forget about you and you may lose a potential business opportunity down the road.   3. Reuniting. When your client does return, it can be like that friendship you have with people that live far away. You can pick up right where you left off as if no time has passed. If you stayed professional and checked in with them throughout the hiatus, there should be no communication challenges – which we all know could be detrimental to any relationship, especially between a PR person and their client.  

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Lacey Trejo

Lacey Trejo Public Relations (LTPR) is a boutique PR consulting firm founded by Lacey Trejo, a senior-level PR professional with nearly 15 years of experience. LTPR’s mission is to drive widespread visibility and strong ROI on behalf of various clientele.

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