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Re: [prbytes] Can this account be saved?

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  • Ned Barnett
    How badly do you want to save this relationship? You CAN save it, but it may involve eating a truckload of dung (how s that for a polite euphemism?) along the
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 19, 2006
      How badly do you want to save this relationship? You CAN save it,
      but it may involve eating a truckload of dung (how's that for a
      polite euphemism?) along the way. The last agency I worked with, I
      got the rep as someone who could handle "difficult" clients;
      ultimately, all of the agency's difficult clients were assigned to
      me. What I found is the following:

      1. You have to be ready to put up with a lot
      2. You have to know when to draw the line
      3. You have to be ready to confront your client - and if you do,
      you've got to have ALL the facts

      Here are a couple of suggestions:

      a. Don't sweat the small stuff - if he wants to brag that he lined
      up the review, let him ... don't you think his co-workers have
      already figured him out? It's small stuff - don't sweat it.

      b. Set up a new-client training/orientation program (a bit late, but
      better late than never) - in this you could include:

      * How we work
      * How we work with you
      * How we'd like you to work with us
      * What we do for you
      * What we don't (won't/can't) do for you
      * Resources (BusinessWire)
      * Strategies (key words - which work on websites, not press releases)
      * Reporting - and charging for reporting

      There are probably other things, too, but that's a place to
      start. In this way, you can draw the line without being
      confrontational. Say things like:

      "We currently use BusinessWire - over time, we've learned that they
      deliver the best bang for our client's buck. However, we are always
      evaluating other options, and have been known to test those options
      (at our expense) in parallel with BizWire - so far, none of the have
      measured up, but if something better appears, we'll be telling you
      about it long before you hear about it from commission-based sales people."

      "We stay on top of the technology of public relations communications.
      For our clients that involve us in their website, for instance, we
      know the latest Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithms, we know
      how to insert key words that track, and we know how to basically
      "game" the system to our client's best interests. We know how to
      make blogs work for our clients - and we know what kinds of subtle
      pitfalls to avoid. We also go beyond the hype - we know that some
      maintain that "key words" can optimize press release, and we know
      that's an urban legend. Press releases aren't searched in that way
      (however, they are searched by ticker symbols, and by corporate names
      in the headline and lead paragraph, and we know how to optimize them)."

      "When it comes to tracking activity and 'grading' our performance, we
      believe - and most of our clients believe - that the results we bring
      in speak for themselves. However, some clients - due to internal
      policies or for other reasons - want us to scrupulously and
      periodically report on our activities and objectively assess our
      results. However, these clients also understand that this extra
      activity-set (tracking and reporting) can easily eat up from two to
      five hours per month (even more on bigger accounts); that, in turn,
      either adds to the cost of any PR activity, or - if we're on a fixed
      budget - it reduces the number of hours we can devote to generating
      results through aggressive and effective outbound PR programs. If
      you need reports and evaluations, we'll gladly meet that need, and
      we'll do our best to keep the tracking-and-reporting to no more than
      five billable hours per month."

      Beyond that, you can do simple things: For instance, as soon as you
      score from something you did (an editorial board meeting, perhaps),
      you send out an email that documents (not brags - just documents)
      what you've done. This needs to occur before this guy can rush to
      take credit. Be subtle - and if he does it anyway, just remember
      that his co-workers already have him pegged.

      I don't know if this will help. I do know that a client like this
      can be more trouble than he's worth - UNLESS - you take the bull by
      the horns and take control of the account. If he wants tracking -
      track, and bill (and let him know you're billing). If he wants to
      take credit, let him - but make sure you get a brief report e-mail in
      circulation before he takes the credit (if that's important to you).

      Hope this helps - these have worked for me, but there are no guarantees.

      Ned



      At 11:39 AM 6/12/2006, you wrote:

      >One of my client marketing VPs is on business in London, and while he's
      >there, he's meeting with some PR firms for local projects. After one
      >meeting he came running back to me to find out if "our Press Releases
      >are optimized for Key Word searches on the web, and if not, why not?"
      >
      >This guy tends to be highly suspicious about everything he's getting
      >from us for the money. He demanded a list of all publications that
      >receive releases from BusinessWire because a no-name, no-reputation
      >wire service approached him to get his business. I think it's odd that
      >rather than trusting his PR firm, he trusts some sales guy. (?)
      >
      >I see why he's squeamish, because we charge more than the one-person
      >firm he had for 4+ years, and with all due respect to that guy, he was
      >losing traction because the technology is not that sexy and he wasn't
      >getting more creative to compensate for that. We've made a lot more
      >noise, so to speak, in just four months. This could be a fluke, of
      >course, or an uptick in activity based on the newness of the
      >relationship, and/or the agreeable nature of some editors toward any
      >client of ours.
      >
      >Recently an editorial briefing went well enough that the editor asked
      >for a copy of the product to review afterward. While this was all good,
      >the VP has said a number of times that "he landed the review" as if
      >there was no effort on our part (such as setting up the briefing in the
      >first place).
      >
      >He's made odd requests on deliverables too, such as suggesting we self-
      >evaluate at the end of each month in some kind of report card, and then
      >he would evaluate us too, to see if we agree. I pooh-poohed it by
      >saying I didn't see us as being on opposing teams, we both want
      >success, so how and why would we ever disagree?
      >
      >I just feel like he's looking for any opportunity to catch us in a
      >mistake of some sort. Am I paranoid? Too sensitive?
      >
      >Most of the time, at least in personal conversations, he's very
      >friendly and funny and charming and all that - working with him is not
      >unpleasant, except for this kind of behavior. One coworker calls him a
      >bully, and refuses to deal with him, which means I put up with even
      >more of this guy's mood swings than I would normally.
      >
      >Can this relationship be saved?
      >
      >



      Ned Barnett, APR
      Marketing/PR Fellow, AHA

      Barnett Marketing Communications
      Exceptional Marcom Services for Exceptional Clients

      420 N. Nellis Blvd., A3 - 276 - Las Vegas, NV 89110
      Phone: 702-696-1200 * FAX: 702-696-1211
      ned@... - http://www.barnettmarcom.com

      Barnett on PR: http://barnettmarcom.blogspot.com/
      Barnett on Marketing: http://barnettonmarketing.blogspot.com/
      Barnett on Book Promotion/Marketing/Publishing:
      http://barnettonpublishing.blogspot.com/

      BMC - A Sound Investment in Exceptional Success

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Ned Barnett
      ... That strikes me as a very good approach, and one that s very gentle on your time-budget. ... I dunno, he might just be a jerk. Lots of jerks out there -
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 20, 2006
        At 09:40 AM 6/19/2006, you wrote:

        >Sorry - I just got your message today! I used to send my clients a
        >priority memo for the month - what we had on tartget to accomplish.
        >They would review it and sign off on it (and the budget if
        >approriate). Then at the end of the month, I would send them a
        >results memo which was the priority memo with our accomplishments.
        >This would inlcude any items that just came up - as usually happens
        >- as well as reasons why thing that were scheduled to happen, did
        >not happen. This way we were all on the same page. This may help you
        >with your client.

        That strikes me as a very good approach, and one that's very gentle
        on your time-budget.

        >It also sounds like your client may be getting pressure from his
        >bosses and asked questions he may not have the answers to.

        I dunno, he might just be a jerk. Lots of jerks out there - little
        people who love to abuse whatever small power they have to compensate
        for their inability to control their lives (or to compensate for
        their smaller-than-average "equipment," if you know what I
        mean). Seriously, there are many jerks out there, and the ones I've
        dealt with were NOT generally getting pressure from above - the
        pressure comes from their own internal dysfunctions, their failures
        as human beings, their inability to gain the respect of their
        children (or satisfy their significant other) or resolve Freudian
        mother-worship issues (in short, they're sorry human beings, and love
        inflicting their pain on others).

        >Since this is a new relationship, you must evauate if you think he
        >will get better and "get it" or if he will continue to be a pain and
        >not a partner.

        My guess is the latter - which is why it's important to manage the
        account from a position of strength - to take control, instead of
        letting this sorry SOB from seizing and wielding power.

        > If you have the "partner" discussion with him and explain part of
        > your job is to make him look good to his bosses, and he continues
        > to treat you like a hostile entity, find a replacement client!
        > Life's too short and he'll probably fight you on everything you've
        > done (money wise) and not want to pay you for your efforts.

        I tend to agree with Anne Marie (philosophically), but the only
        clients I've ever resigned were the ones who either lied to me (about
        stuff I then used my own credibility to publicize) or who gave me bad
        checks. If they're merely miserable rat-bastards, I suck it up and
        cash their goddamned checks, and count myself lucky that I can pay
        the mortgage for another month. I've been wildly successful and I've
        been flat broke - broke hurts more than successful feels good, so I
        take "bad" clients because the pain they inflict is generally less
        bothersome than the pain of being flat broke.

        But Kezia, you're with an agency, and I suspect your compensation is
        not based on keeping this client in the stable. As long as your boss
        backs you, you've got a bit more cushion than do those of us who are
        solo practitioners. On the other hand, I can blow off a client (and
        I have) without asking anybody's permission. And Good Lord Above,
        does that feel good! (an expensive "good," to be sure, but when it's
        deserved, it feels great).

        All the best

        Ned

        >Good Luck - Anne Marie
        >
        >kezia_jauron <<mailto:kezia%40jprcom.com>kezia@...> wrote:
        >One of my client marketing VPs is on business in London, and while he's
        >there, he's meeting with some PR firms for local projects. After one
        >meeting he came running back to me to find out if "our Press Releases
        >are optimized for Key Word searches on the web, and if not, why not?"
        >
        >This guy tends to be highly suspicious about everything he's getting
        >from us for the money. He demanded a list of all publications that
        >receive releases from BusinessWire because a no-name, no-reputation
        >wire service approached him to get his business. I think it's odd that
        >rather than trusting his PR firm, he trusts some sales guy. (?)
        >
        >I see why he's squeamish, because we charge more than the one-person
        >firm he had for 4+ years, and with all due respect to that guy, he was
        >losing traction because the technology is not that sexy and he wasn't
        >getting more creative to compensate for that. We've made a lot more
        >noise, so to speak, in just four months. This could be a fluke, of
        >course, or an uptick in activity based on the newness of the
        >relationship, and/or the agreeable nature of some editors toward any
        >client of ours.
        >
        >Recently an editorial briefing went well enough that the editor asked
        >for a copy of the product to review afterward. While this was all good,
        >the VP has said a number of times that "he landed the review" as if
        >there was no effort on our part (such as setting up the briefing in the
        >first place).
        >
        >He's made odd requests on deliverables too, such as suggesting we self-
        >evaluate at the end of each month in some kind of report card, and then
        >he would evaluate us too, to see if we agree. I pooh-poohed it by
        >saying I didn't see us as being on opposing teams, we both want
        >success, so how and why would we ever disagree?
        >
        >I just feel like he's looking for any opportunity to catch us in a
        >mistake of some sort. Am I paranoid? Too sensitive?
        >
        >Most of the time, at least in personal conversations, he's very
        >friendly and funny and charming and all that - working with him is not
        >unpleasant, except for this kind of behavior. One coworker calls him a
        >bully, and refuses to deal with him, which means I put up with even
        >more of this guy's mood swings than I would normally.
        >
        >Can this relationship be saved?
        >
        >
        >---------------------------------
        >Do you Yahoo!?
        >Everyone is raving about the all-new Yahoo! Mail Beta.
        >
        >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >



        Ned Barnett, APR
        Marketing/PR Fellow, AHA

        Barnett Marketing Communications
        Exceptional Marcom Services for Exceptional Clients

        420 N. Nellis Blvd., A3 - 276 - Las Vegas, NV 89110
        Phone: 702-696-1200 * FAX: 702-696-1211
        ned@... - http://www.barnettmarcom.com

        Barnett on PR: http://barnettmarcom.blogspot.com/
        Barnett on Marketing: http://barnettonmarketing.blogspot.com/
        Barnett on Book Promotion/Marketing/Publishing:
        http://barnettonpublishing.blogspot.com/

        BMC - A Sound Investment in Exceptional Success

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • kezia_jauron
        Just wanted to pop by with an overdue thanks for people who made it through that rant - and those who went the extra mile to respond. These sorts of problems
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 12, 2006
          Just wanted to pop by with an overdue thanks for people who made it
          through that rant - and those who went the extra mile to respond.

          These sorts of problems are always compounded by being busy. I'm
          managing three accounts right now singlehandedly and pitching in on
          several others.

          I find that when this particular exec starts ratcheting up his inner
          bully, I can use comedy to defuse it: "Yeah, I'd love to do that for
          you, but I'm too busy p!ssing off editors because you don't have a
          customer they can talk to. Can I look forward to you selling
          something to somebody soon?"

          Also, the company announced the week before last that it is for
          sale, so we'll see what the relationship does in the long run.


          --- In prbytes@yahoogroups.com, Anne Marie Furie <amfurie@...> wrote:
          >
          > Sorry - I just got your message today! I used to send my clients
          a priority memo for the month - what we had on tartget to
          accomplish. They would review it and sign off on it (and the budget
          if approriate). Then at the end of the month, I would send them a
          results memo which was the priority memo with our accomplishments.
          This would inlcude any items that just came up - as usually happens -
          as well as reasons why thing that were scheduled to happen, did not
          happen. This way we were all on the same page. This may help you
          with your client.
          > It also sounds like your client may be getting pressure from his
          bosses and asked questions he may not have the answers to. Since
          this is a new relationship, you must evauate if you think he will
          get better and "get it" or if he will continue to be a pain and not
          a partner. If you have the "partner" discussion with him and
          aexplain part of your job is to make him look good to his bosses,
          and he continues to treat you like a hostile entity, find a
          replacement client! Life's too short and he'll probably fight you
          on everything you've done (money wise) and not want to pay you for
          your efforts.
          > Good Luck - Anne Marie
          >
          > kezia_jauron <kezia@...> wrote:
          > One of my client marketing VPs is on business in London,
          and while he's
          > there, he's meeting with some PR firms for local projects. After
          one
          > meeting he came running back to me to find out if "our Press
          Releases
          > are optimized for Key Word searches on the web, and if not, why
          not?"
          >
          > This guy tends to be highly suspicious about everything he's
          getting
          > from us for the money. He demanded a list of all publications that
          > receive releases from BusinessWire because a no-name, no-
          reputation
          > wire service approached him to get his business. I think it's odd
          that
          > rather than trusting his PR firm, he trusts some sales guy. (?)
          >
          > I see why he's squeamish, because we charge more than the one-
          person
          > firm he had for 4+ years, and with all due respect to that guy, he
          was
          > losing traction because the technology is not that sexy and he
          wasn't
          > getting more creative to compensate for that. We've made a lot
          more
          > noise, so to speak, in just four months. This could be a fluke, of
          > course, or an uptick in activity based on the newness of the
          > relationship, and/or the agreeable nature of some editors toward
          any
          > client of ours.
          >
          > Recently an editorial briefing went well enough that the editor
          asked
          > for a copy of the product to review afterward. While this was all
          good,
          > the VP has said a number of times that "he landed the review" as
          if
          > there was no effort on our part (such as setting up the briefing
          in the
          > first place).
          >
          > He's made odd requests on deliverables too, such as suggesting we
          self-
          > evaluate at the end of each month in some kind of report card, and
          then
          > he would evaluate us too, to see if we agree. I pooh-poohed it by
          > saying I didn't see us as being on opposing teams, we both want
          > success, so how and why would we ever disagree?
          >
          > I just feel like he's looking for any opportunity to catch us in a
          > mistake of some sort. Am I paranoid? Too sensitive?
          >
          > Most of the time, at least in personal conversations, he's very
          > friendly and funny and charming and all that - working with him is
          not
          > unpleasant, except for this kind of behavior. One coworker calls
          him a
          > bully, and refuses to deal with him, which means I put up with
          even
          > more of this guy's mood swings than I would normally.
          >
          > Can this relationship be saved?
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > ---------------------------------
          > Do you Yahoo!?
          > Everyone is raving about the all-new Yahoo! Mail Beta.
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
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