As a publicist — whether in the back or forefront of your mind — you’re probably always wondering if your client is pleased with the work you’re doing. You’re providing a service to them and their happiness is as important to your success as it is to theirs, but sometimes you may feel you’re doing a great job while your client might not agree.

Keeping your client happy is all about managing expectations. In the very beginning you have to sit down with them and be clear on what you will provide, the results they should expect, and what you’ll need from them to help you produce those results. If you’re unclear on what you will provide, then they’ll be unclear on what to expect — with unfulfilled expectations resulting in an unhappy client. Makes sense, right?

Your most important tools in the beginning of any relationship are your ears. You have to keep them open and listen to what your client tells you from the get go, and then you can converse freely and intelligently about what you will — and can — provide. Check in with your client frequently to discuss what you laid down in the beginning, keeping them up to date with all your progress, while listening to their concerns and praises.

But remember, timing is everything. You can’t begin managing expectations when the client has become unhappy; you have to do it from first contact because if you’ve waited too long you’ll have a tougher hill to climb. And sometimes it’s just too late.