For over three years, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of working in and learning about the supply chain and food distribution industry, particularly when it comes to managing client accounts. There are so many variables that go into managing a client’s account, particularly when one is handling something as sensitive as food. Everything in the food supply chain industry works simultaneously from price changes to managing food items during a promotion. Each account is different so submitting such things as price changes to clients will vary between clients.
I’m sure no matter what industry, every account-facing company is different. Each company has their own standard operating procedures (SOPs) for their clients. How one goes about managing and executing the tactics for a client however is completely up to the account manager and the client’s preference. This resembles a lot like a publicist and their clients. A publicist’s musician client may not be available to do early morning interviews as they spend all night in the studio so it may be better to schedule an exclusive interview or a story to make the evening news. A client may have an upcoming promotion within the next couple of months that you have to prepare for now in order to ensure the entire supply chain will be logistically satisfied.
During the time from when you’re aware of an upcoming event, as an account manager I’ve applied my publicist skills many times.
As a publicist, a good amount of research is needed to ensure a smooth transition to meet a client’s deadline. You don’t want to pitch your client’s story to the wrong reporter. Normally for our re-distribution clients, I research previous promotions from this time last year to:
- see what we did
- how we did it
- issues that we ran into
- what factored into this promotion (seasonal changes in food items, price changes, changes internally and changes within the client’s company)
- to whom do we communicate these upcoming factors
- measure compliance
The client normally has deadlines to have the product in the stores and in the distribution centers. From there I work on internal deadlines. This ranges from lead times from the supplier, transit times to and from our warehouses and order dates from the distribution centers. From setting internal deadlines to respected departments, I can estimate when we expect to have product to each distribution center and verify if we can meet the client’s deadline or if other solutions are needed. PR clients need careful planning to ensure the tactics and goals of a campaign align with your client’s brand or message.
Once the product is received in and shipped out to the distribution centers, we follow up with the client to provide daily/weekly/monthly reports on what was shipped. We also note any issues that we ran into to aid the client in future promotions. There was once promotion where one distribution center requested more cases of a product than what they were meant to receive, resulting in the client not factoring in new stores that were recently added into the supply chain. It is vital to keep track of any tangible assets on behalf of the client such as freebies for journalists or attendees of your client’s events such as an item launch or a conference where several parties get the opportunity to connect and build their own relationships.
Key Take away:
Skills are transferrable. Apply them appropriately. Oprah Winfrey once said “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” Clients notice how much work you put into a project and it should come as no surprise that they will make sure to count on your proactive strategies the next time around. Make sure you’re doing the best now not only for your clients and their brands, but for yourself as well.