The biblical figure Job would be ideally equipped to lead a public relations firm in today's harsh economic environment. Having been severely tested by countless challenges from God himself, Job would no doubt breeze through such 2010 realities as:
– The endless agency search. We're still involved in an 'active' search that began last October and shows no signs of culminating any time soon. Job wouldn't mind.
– The casting call. Job's patience and perseverance would quickly set him and his firm apart in prospect cattle calls that often include eight to 10 agencies and, sometimes, in the case of Wikipedia, an even 100 (there's something biblical about that).
– The false prophet. Job's keen senses would enable him to detect insincerity by client and prospect alike. He'd recognize that the newly-hired client CMO has no intention of maintaining the existing relationship and that her request for new thinking is nothing more than a thinly-disguised search for ideas her new firm can subsequently implement.
– The money changers. Job would take a holy man's POV to a discussion with those parsimonious client procurement types. For every inch Job gave, he's know a way to exact a yard in exchange (or, would it be a cubit in exchange?).
Yes, Job was built for 2010, not 3300 BC. That said, I wondered how some of his biblical brethren would fare in today's rough-and-tumble PR world:
– David would undoubtedly run his own start-up, defeat countless Philistines in big new business pitches, but eventually be acquired by a giant such as WPP.
– Esau would do whatever it takes to win business, step on people, back stab, etc., to achieve enormous initial success. Then, he'd just as quickly fade into oblivion as the industry wised up to his tactics (PR has had more than one Esau).
– Adam and Eve PR would be a veritable paradise in which to work until, alas, Eve made a pact to represent the client from hell. The client's moral, ethical and business lapses would drive it, along with Adam and Eve, from paradise.
– Jonah would be clueless. Anyone who can be swallowed by a whale wouldn't last very long in PR's turbulent waters. Having found himself spit out by PR, Jonah would no doubt end up in one of our cottage industries, say, arranging satellite media tours.
– Samson's firm wouldn't last long either, falling prey to the first siren call of a large and abusive client such as Delilah's. As for the latter, I'm pretty sure she doubled as the number two client at a Fortune 10 corporation we used to represent.
But, back to The Patience of Job PR. Job & Co., have the built-in DNA to deal with the absurdity of the current client-agency landscape. His firm would not only outlast the endless delays and uncertainties, they'd wear down clients with their niceness. My prediction: The Patience of Job will be named PR Week's 2010 Agency of the Year. And, they'll have done it without being positioned as the conflict agency of a larger firm or aided by infrastructure support from a holding company. Not Job. He and his cohorts have the patience to do just fine on their own.