If you’re not over-delivering, you’re not really doing your job

Is meeting expectations on a PR brief ever enough? Katie Clift argues that in today's competitive landscape, surpassing expectations is essential.

I remember early on in my media career being given the advice to ‘under-promise’ and ‘over-deliver’ – to make sure that the results I secured for clients were always above and beyond the expectations I set for them.

But, I’m calling it – the day of ‘under-promising’ is over, and it’s all thanks to media globalisation. And frankly? I’m all for it.

Our media and PR industries, traditionally and digitally, are now more transparent than ever, and clients have clearer expectations about the outcomes that can be achieved through consultants and agencies.

The playing field is now level. It’s almost impossible to ‘under-promise’ because expectations from media investment are high, and they are justified, based on the history and success of our industry.

I prefer to ‘precisely-promise’ based on media and PR trends internationally, and experience. Our predictions for ROI should be true, honest, precise and based on real results.

But does precisely-promising mean we should drop the ball and settle for precise-delivery? Should our results simply be equal to the promises and expectations we set?

Honestly? No. I believe if we’re not over-delivering, we’re not really doing our job at all.

Over-delivery is one of the most important attributes anyone working in the media or PR industry can have – despite the benchmark of any promise. It should be one of the highest values we set for ourselves, in every project and task we undertake.

Over-delivery is what sets us apart from the competition. It’s what drives a sense of achievement, satisfaction and personal fulfilment in our work. Going above and beyond is a value that can (and should) be applied to every aspect of our everyday working life.

When we settle for average, we lose the spark that drives us to achieve something special. That spark is what helps us discover new possibilities, new angles for stories, benchmarking metrics that haven’t been seen before, hitting new records for media mentions and finding new opportunities for spectacular client media wins.

When I’ve been tempted to slow the PR pace after I meet expectations, I take the time to step back and ask myself why. Because that very act – simply delivering equal to what is expected – is not why I started out in PR at all.

If I’m not achieving more than what is expected or promised, I honestly don’t believe I’m providing the full worth, value and return on media investment. I am not giving my best.

Many of us working in media and PR need to take the time to take that step back. Are we simply meeting expectations and missing opportunities to push harder, deliver greater and achieve more? And shouldn’t we strive to execute more than average?

Isn’t over-delivery what our entire industry should be all about?

Katie Clift is director of Katie Clift Consulting Pty Ltd. Follow her at twitter.com/katieclift, @katieclift on Instagram or at katieclift.com.


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