Anne Buchanan, president of our PRGN affiliate Buchanan Public Relations in Philly, posted a question on Facebook earlier this week about how it is that Olympic coaches can work with two competing athletes, yet PR agencies find that they are conflicted out when asked to represent competing companies.
I thought it was a great blog topic so here’s the result.
We’ve always believed that we do a disservice to a client if we are doing work for a similar and/or competing client in the same industry in the same market. A couple of our clients have asked that it be stated in our contract that we won’t accept the work. We do believe our expertise in certain categories presents us with opportunities to work with other clients so we will often pursue these opportunities in other markets.
But an interesting thing has started to happen – there are a few clients that don’t seem to mind that we might take on another client in their category. As long as we can service the business with different account teams and don’t share proprietary information, they trust us to do what we’ve been hired to do and to be the ethical practitioners that they know us to be.
I took a look at the Code of Ethics on the PRSA website and it would appear that the industry agrees with our clients. According to the guidelines, members of the association shall:
Encourage clients and customers to determine if a conflict exists after notifying all affected parties.
In other words, it is the client’s perspective regarding conflict that is the prevailing opinion. If after discussing it both parties agree that the agency can do the work for both, then go for it.
So taking it back to the Olympics question, that must also be the reason why for them – if the competing athletes don’t have a problem with sharing the coach, then the coach is free to work with more than one athlete.
Agency folks – what do you think, can we take on more than one client in an industry? And from the client side – what are your feelings on this subject?