One of my favorite clients is someone who challenges me regularly to explain what I’m up to.

Just today, she asked me about the placement of a news release on a user-generated website owned by the Sun-Times News Group. Why, she wondered, was the piece placed on a community page many miles from where she will be delivering three talks in the next few weeks?

I had a ready reply.

It’s because the Neighborhood Circle website’s “default” page happens to be that particular community. I assured her that the release had been simultaneously posted on a few dozen community pages, including some much closer to where she’ll be speaking.

It’s vital that I had a logical response. But even more gratifying to me is that my client felt the freedom to question me bluntly on the issue. Candor and transparency are so important that over a year ago I developed the Inside Edge Partnership Pledge.

I share it with each new client, and post it here in the hopes that it may help you in whatever endeavors you pursue:

“I am excited that we have embarked on our partnership.

I highlighted “partnership” in the first line not in the legal sense, but in the spirit of how I view my work with your business. I do not regard myself as a vendor simply providing services to another entity, but as someone who is now a motivated, independently contracted part of that entity with a vested interest in your—more accurately, our—success.

In retaining me, you now have someone who will provide you with clear, honest feedback about any matters pertaining to your business that I believe would be helpful for you to hear—even if they do not directly relate to my Public Relations and Media Services.

Success occurs more frequently and resoundingly in an environment where trust, mutual respect and open, honest communication thrive. I am excited about working with you and on behalf of (your business/organization/association.)

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about anything that arises out of our business relationship. I truly appreciate the opportunity to help serve you and your business.”

In short, this is permission marketing with my clients, and it sets the tone for an honest, constructive relationship whose focus is not on preserving anyone’s ego (though I take great pains to do that) but on helping the client achieve his/her/their goals.

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