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Misguided Outreach
May 22, 2015
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good-intentions-gone-wrongI’ve talked before about PRSA’s Counselors Academy and it being one of the best professional development investments we make each year.  The section’s annual conference was held in Laguna Beach (yeah, I know, tough duty) and was jam-packed with amazing learning opportunities and discussions about how we can be better agency owners and managers.

I attended a session led by Ann Gynn, APR on 11 Client Mistakes That Agencies Make.  PR News did a nice job recapping it.

So that got me thinking about what mistakes we might have made over the years.  And I use the word mistake to mean “we meant well at the time, but it sure didn’t turn out as we planned.” So I asked around and got a couple thoughts.

  • Celebrating a big win with a client with champagne and chocolate. Only to realize after we popped the bubbly, the client didn’t drink.
  • We have the pleasure of working with a couple international clients. But our holidays in the U.S. don’t have quite the same meaning in other countries.  So when we offered up a “have a nice Memorial Day weekend” message, it was not well-received.
  • We worked for weeks scheduling a FAM tour for a client selling ranches in Wyoming. This was about the time that the first major layoffs were occurring at newspapers around the country, so no editor was willing to put out the cash for a reporter to travel.  We opted instead to reach out to freelancers and secured a few to attend.  Upon arrival, one of the largest storms EVER to hit the area precluded us from doing any of the outdoor activities scheduled (and there were plenty scheduled!). We made it work, but in the end, none of our attendees ever filed a story.
  • Went to a new business meeting dressed in a suit, as I typically do when we meet for the first time.  The client, while all elected officials, were all farmers who were coming in from their fields to the meeting. I was a bit over-dressed. Shed the coat and tie once I sat down.

Would love for you to chime in and share yours, too.  I asked a couple colleagues and here’s what they had to say:

  • We had an offer out to a potential employee and as part of the conversation, mentioned one of the clients we were pitching that if we won it, she would be working on it. She was so excited, she wrote a very lengthy blog post about joining our firm (not yet finalized) AND that she’d be working on the not-yet-won client.  Client saw it in their Google alerts. Oops. Still hoping we can keep the discussion going with the client and yes, I am still planning to hire her. Gotta appreciate her enthusiasm, right?
  • That time when two young entrepreneurs came into my office with this crazy idea that people could rent rooms to vacationers, using the internet to make the reservation. All I could think of was that it was an invitation for disaster. We politely declined to move forward with these guys.  These guys turned out to be the brains behind AirBnB. Lesson learned: as communicators, despite our reaction to watch for the worst, we should always be open to the possibility.

What would you add to the list?

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

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