The Wild Bill Hickok of PR Firms

Lest you think otherwise, I'm about to whine about a high-class problem. Hlp_wb3

We've been on a real, new business run this year and our billings have increased by at least 20 percent. So, what's my issue? Just this: We have a real knack for winning clients who simply won't let us announce the business. I wouldn't mind if that were the case across the board, but I cringe each and every morning as I spy the PR industry trades announcing one new business win after another.

Our radio silence makes me think that others think that Peppercom's moribund. Please don't think that. We're vibrant and growing like a weed. We just happen to have worse luck than Wild Bill Hickok who, after drawing pairs of black aces and eights in a game of cards in a Deadwood, S.D., saloon, was shot to death by a jealous gunslinger. I feel just like Hickok. We draw a great hand and then, boom, we can't show it to the rest of the world.

There also seems to be a real double standard when it comes to announcing new business wins. I'll never forget our disappointment when, after nailing a $1 million win with Yahoo! a few years back, we were informed “…company policy forbade any new business announcements by vendors” (and, boy, do I ever despise the V word).

Sure enough, 15 months later, when a new top dog arrived at Y!, we were not only fired, but the news was spread near and far across the industry trades. I bit my tongue when a reporter asked me, “So, Yahoo! just announced they'd be replacing you as B2B AOR and Golin-Harris as B2C AOR. Any comment?” I had quite a few choice comments, especially one about their double standard on announcements. Instead, I took the high road and echoed G-H's CEO, Fred Cook, who said, “Clearly, it was time for a change for both parties.” I liked that. You go, Fred.

So, dear reader, do NOT read anything into the dearth of new business news from Peppercom (and other great firms who have been dealt the same dead man's hand). We're doing very, very well, thank you very much. We just happen to be doing very well with extremely introverted clients.

In the final analysis, I guess I'll take the billings and the opportunity to create award-winning campaigns over a headline in PRWeek anytime (especially when the client ends up breaking its own rules about announcements). Now, someone cut the cards. I'm feeling lucky.

7 thoughts on “The Wild Bill Hickok of PR Firms

  1. Having had to write those obnoxious “look at me, we just won XYX account” announcments for other firms, it’s usually the moment the news hits that the client relationship hits its first rough patches. I’ve come to believe that sometimes, silence is golden.

  2. I hear you, Abbie. But, in the rock ’em, sock ’em world of Manhattan PR, people assume no news is bad news (as in ‘Gee, I haven’t read anything about you in months. Everything ok?’). We’ve always pursued a steady stream of thought leadership, but nothing seems to confirm the industry’s perception (right or wrong) that ‘agency x is hot’ like a big, new business announcement.

  3. Steve – we debate this quite a bit. Even when our clients are ok with us sharing the news, we hesitate to make the announcement. Do we need to brag about our win or should we just go about doing the thing our clients hired us to do.

  4. RepMan: I think it’s a testament to the power of Peppercom to be doing such gangbuster business without having to tout the firm in the PR trades. As a person who reads these publications, I find those “look at me, we just won XYX account” announcments rather obnoxious anyway.