Oct 11

Prospecting 101

There are right ways and wrong ways to develop new business. Alaska-state-library-photograph-pca-44-3-15-sourdough-in-stream-panning-for-gold-skinner

The right way is to first conduct deep research on a prospect organization, arrive at some sort of possible 'white space' opportunity and then 'ask' the prospect's permission to discuss the findings.

The wrong way is to spam the prospect. One of our clients, who leads communications for a global brand, says she is literally being deluged by spam pitches from myriad public relations firms. They're arriving in ever-increasing numbers, are 'inside out' in their approach (i.e. “We're a great agency and you'd be smart to hire us.”) and are actually counter-productive since they damage the firm's image and reputation.

I have the great fortune to serve on several boards populated by some of the best and brightest corporate communications chiefs in the world. I would never, ever allow my firm to blindly spam these individuals. To do so would violate a business relationship and, even more importantly to me, a personal friendship. That said, I've been able to win new business with some of my board peers but only after a long period of building mutual trust.

So, here's a heads-up to all the new business people at all the PR firms in the world. Stop spamming prospects. Step back and be more thoughtful in your approach and suggest solutions instead of pitching your incredible capabilities. My client will tell you those unsolicited mailers are going straight in her trash can, as is any chance of being considered for future assignments.

Sep 10

Not wanting to let go isn’t limited to Baby Boomer CEOs

The Wall Street Journal article on Baby Boomer CEOs and their reluctance to step down struck a chord. Old_man

In the article, the Journal cites a 60-something chief executive who had hired his successor and then, quite simply, refused to leave. The exact same thing happened to me 12 years ago.

I was hired by a 65-year-old CEO to be his heir apparent. Foolishly, I took his word that he’d be gone within a year. Instead, I was the one who ended up leaving.

After settling in, I discovered that I was only the latest in a long line of successors this ‘lion in winter’ had hand-picked for the assignment. Truth be told, though, he had no desire to ever relinquish the reins. So, he made life unbearable for we CEOs in waiting and forced us out, one by one.

Every cloud does indeed have its silver lining, though, and so did this one. Immediately after leaving that hellish environment, I holed up with Sir Edward Moed in his squalid, one bedroom apartment and launched Peppercom.

Oh, and the CEO in question? He finally disappeared into the sunset about five years ago. It just goes to show that Baby Boomer CEOs aren’t unique in their desire to hang on as long as possible. In fact, history’s pages are replete with ‘chief executives’ like Napoleon, Caligula and Saddam Hussein who had no desire to ever let go.

Thanks to Laura Zanzal for the idea.