Oct 28

Six Other Reasons PR Firms Get Fired

Lucy Siegel of Bridge Global Strategies recently authored a blog entitled, 'Six Reasons PR firms Get  Fired.'  As someone who's been a journalist, a corporate communications manager and a PR agency manager, Lucy knows her stuff.

I agree with each and every one of her points. But, I'd add six other reasons PR firms get fired:
Fortune-cookie-youre-fired-message
1) There's a new sheriff in town. We've won business when a former client becomes the new top dog at an organization and brings us along. We've also been shown the door when a new head of corporate communications wants her own PR firm. It happens all the time.
2) The client falls in love with someone else. The CEO of one large agency is absolutely nonpareil in his ability to wine and dine other agency's clients. He's taken a big one away from us in the past and has quite the reputation for doing the same thing to just about everyone else.
3) Bait-and-switch. Big agencies still front load their new business pitches with superstars from the Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations who promise to open doors. Then, when the prospect hires the agency, a bunch of 23-year-old junior account executives show up.
4) Account staff turnover. Every agency loses people, but some (such as the one run by the wine-and-dine guy mentioned above) are revolving doors. Clients hate having to re-train new account managers and fire agencies as a result.
5) Different offices or practice groups fighting over who owns the client relationship. This is another reason big agencies lose clients. I remember witnessing first-hand a major power struggle within Hill & Knowlton between my boss and the head of another practice to see who would own the new P&G client. P&G hated the internecine warfare and fired us.
6) Agencies become newsmakers. Clients do not like seeing their agencies making negative news. So, when H&K was raked over the coals in the early 1990s for manufacturing news for the government of Kuwait, there was a wholesale client defection. Ketchum and Edelman have also taken very public bruising for past misdeeds. And, McGarryBowen was just identified as one of the sources of leaks that enabled environmental activist groups to hijack client Chevron's 'We agree' campaign. That cannot be sitting well at Chevron HQs right now.

What have Ms Siegel and I missed? Why else do PR firms get fired? Do blogs about getting fired cause firings? I sure hope not.

Mar 03

When a new sheriff comes to town

We were just gunned down by the new sheriff in town. Sheriff

He’d arrived before the holidays, carrying the title of chief marketing officer and maintaining a very low, almost secretive, profile.

Townsfolk and hired guns alike were nervous. What would the new sheriff do? Would he maintain things as they were, or would he come out with his six guns blasting?

As the town’s resident hired guns, we made the first move. We unstrapped our holsters, stuck out our hands and e-mailed a great big ‘Howdy, partner.’ The wind howled and the dust swirled, but there was no response. We sent more notes, fired off reports and even left voice mails. Dead silence. To quote an oft-used Western phrase, ‘It was quiet. Too quiet."

It became obvious the new sheriff wouldn’t give us our day in court. And, so, we kept our noses to the grindstone, churning out work and hoping the dreaded ‘Dear agency’ letter wouldn’t come blasting through our firewall.

Finally, inevitably, it was high noon. The lawman struck with a swift and deadly vengeance. We were dead before we could hit the reply button…The reason? ‘The town needed to re-think things and move in a different direction.’ It was the usual new sheriff talk. But, it still hurt.

Why do so many new sheriffs hang the hired guns without a fair trial? Even worse, why do they let us dangle in the wind for a few months before pulling the trigger?

Ironically, many such lawmen eventually lose their jobs and one day come blowing through our office like tumbleweed. When they do, we push back our stetsons, put our boots up on the desk and sigh, ‘Sorry podner, but we have nice, law abiding publicists here. There’s no need for your type in our town.’