The PR blogosphere is positively littered with best practices and how-to columns for agency leaders. But there are precious few that address best practices for clients.
One of our newest clients, Electronic Ink, just published an insightful blog on the subject entitled, 'Are you a good client?'.
Author Stephen Megargee pinpoints the critical role a client plays in any agency relationship. He believes those clients who are the most actively, constructively and openly engaged in their agency partnership will achieve the greatest results. I agree, and believe the word ‘constructively’ is at the heart of the matter.
I've run into clients over the years who've deconstructed relationships by:
– Rejecting any, and all, strategic thinking because they wanted a publicity mill and not a partner.
– Bullying and belittling account teams with the use of numerous F-Bombs, thinly-veiled threats, or a combination thereof.
– Repeatedly 'losing' invoices and making us wait 120 days or longer for payment.
– Taking credit for our successes and blaming us for their shortcomings (BTW, clients SHOULD take credit for an agency's success. It's our job to make them shine in the eyes of their management).
– Firing us abruptly and with no warning whatsoever.
There are many good clients who can become great clients if they follow Megargee's advice. The best clients trust, reward and empower their agency while simultaneously pushing them to be ever more strategic and creative.
As they should because, as Megargee says, “If you (the client) are passive, you probably won't get the gift (a great experience) that you are wishing for. And what a drag that is, considering that you are paying for it (the agency's thinking).”
So, here's a follow-up question for clients to ask themselves: Where would you fit on the Electronic Ink list? Are you:
– Going from good to great.
– Already there.
– In the same sinkhole as the dysfunctional types described above?
I wonder if bad behavior is a result of poor child-rearing or an environmental by-product? Right now, rude and crude rule the day. So, clients mistreating agencies aligns beautifully with the unruly public discourse we see, hear and read about every day.
It never ceases to amaze me the bad behavior demonstrated by businesses. Common courtesy and respect should reign everywhere — from dealing with a crowded subway to an agency/client relationship.
Obviously, many people were not raised with proper manners.
Thanks for sharing Steve! Dead on…