Tuesday, June 07, 2011


I have encountered many different things since setting up in business in the late 90s – the good, the bad, the hugely gratifying and the downright impossible.

The praise of people is always welcome and heartening. Complaints, justified or otherwise, have to be dealt with. The demands need to be put in context and the expectations matched to reality. I like the mix and doing my best for clients who invest so much in me.

I’ve learned that keeping a level head is essential. Listening to sage advice is very important. I believe in good manners in business (as this blog has mentioned before) at all times and dealing with people respectfully.

And in the main I have been fortunate with clients from the public and private sectors who have been a pleasure to work with, to socialise with.

However, I’ve just experienced a business world first. Without naming any names, let me explain. But I do think this bizarre.

At two meetings at the tail end of last year, I was invited to discuss PR support activity with a company for a series of events it was planning. Before the second, I submitted a detailed proposal that included costs. The company said it was pleased with the advice I had given, the suggestions offered and that the proposal was “excellent” and suited in every way. A contract was prepared but not signed as no starting date had been finalised.

Then the first proposed event was postponed so any work I had to do was, rightly, delayed and the company said it would be “in touch.” Busy with other clients, I did not think this was unduly remarkable.

But, when I checked the date for the second planned event on the original list I had been given, it was obvious a fair chunk of activity was quickly required to ensure the strategy agreed could be carried out to the client’s advantage.

I contacted the company several times and heard nothing in return. I didn’t want to badger them and as the day of the proposed second event was getting closer and closer, I had increasing concerns that any worthwhile PR support activity could be achieved.

Then out of the blue, a new “PR” company announced its arrival via a social media platform.

One of its listed clients, its only client actually, was the company I’d been speaking with – and that’s because those behind the new “PR” outfit were those in the company I’d been talking to.

I did smile even though this was a surprise development, bizarre even. I wasn’t aware those involved with the company who had sought my assistance had any expertise in PR: that’s why I was being hired, I reckoned. Silly me.

If those involved – and on their website they rattle on about PR/Marketing but focus their words on marketing mainly – believe they can undertake an efficient and effective PR campaign for their business and their events, then good luck to them. How they can help meet the PR needs of any other client they manage to secure must be open to question.

What’s happened is a bit like me saying: “This week I’m going to become a photographer, a web designer, or an accountant, no wait, an astronaut.” If I did, nobody in their right mind would hire me, would they?

Of course, there’s been no communication from the company, even out of courtesy, to say we won’t be working together. An associate suggested I should write and ask them if my services are definitely no longer required, just to be awkward. But I haven’t and, frankly, don’t want to waste any more time on them.

I would never wish to work for an outfit so blatantly – it would appear – at odds with my own standards and straightforward approach.

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