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Agencies: Fire Your Clients If…

October 24, 2008 / Reading Time: 3 minutes

On Tuesday, Joe Marchese over at MediaPost’s OnlineSpin wrote a great article called “Marketers: Fire Your Agency If…”.

In making his case for marketers holding their agencies to higher standards, he didn’t fail to mention that agencies should consider firing their clients in some scenarios as well. As someone who has had the pleasure of firing a nasty client before, I’d like to second that notion, if not elaborate upon it a bit further.

Disclaimer: We love all of our current clients!

Joe contends that if agencies aren’t always looking for new and innovative ways to achieve a greater effect for their marketing efforts, well then, marketers ought to just fire them. I wholly believe that the same can be said of some clients…especially those that hire you because you’re innovative but then express regret when you’re not traditional. (Disclaimer #2: We do traditional work, too–just not for people who request otherwise.) Sheesh.

There is absolutely nothing worse than working for a client whose sole mission is to be on Oprah or to be profiled in The New York Times. This is not to say those aren’t great venues (seriously, Oprah: call me!), but clients must be willing to look outside the box if they want to run a successful and holistic campaign. If this is the first thing your prospect says on a new business call, take my advice: run a mile. They will never be happy. Neither will you.

If I sound jaded it’s because I’ve dedicated months of my life to campaigns that have seen huge success, garnering over 100,000,000 views online and in print, only to be berated for not getting the client on TV. I’ve had clients dismiss significant opportunities, saying that the writer is “only a blogger, so I can’t be bothered.” And clients who needed constant reassurance that communicating directly with their audiences by blogging two or three times/week was a waste of time because they weren’t being paid for their content. Really?? These things might not turn off some of the more traditional agencies out there, but since we’re often hired to implement these types of campaigns, they certainly turn us off. Not only are these types of blatant dismissals and complaints shortsighted, they’re completely non-innovative.

I imagine people are reading this, thinking, Is she really complaining about her clients on a public forum? The answer is yes: yes, I am. (Well, not the current ones.) The fact is, though, we do some pretty killer work. And since we’re small with less overhead than larger agencies, we can do it a lot more economically than can others. That’s to say, we’re not lacking for opportunity or for the privilege of working with clients who aren’t open to new ideas or have mediocre objectives. We just don’t get paid enough to not enjoy our jobs.

Our mission statement around here is “do great things for great people and don’t work with anyone who doesn’t inspire us in one way or another.” We want to work with people who are willing to take risks, people who will roll up their sleeves and get down to business in pursuit of promoting whatever it is they’ve invested themselves in. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, chances are we–and the rest of the world–won’t be either. If you want to reach out to the masses but have a shabby website or nothing to offer once we get you the attention you’re after, then this relationship is over. And if you’re unwilling to explore all the amazing platforms out there, then, we’re sorry, but we’re going to have to let you go.

It’s not us; it’s you.

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