How to Lose an Agency in 30 Days

By: Bob Geller, EVP, Fusion NY (@rgeller)

We don’t want to bite the hands that feed us, and are deferential to clients in the PR agency world. Having said, that in the spirit of tough love I thought I would write this post. It is addressed to all those companies that have found it difficult to be successful with PR and agencies. In many cases, the PR firm is seen to be the problem, and the solution? Unfortunately, it often seems like the easy thing to do is just hire another agency, rather than stop and take a good hard look at the whole approach to PR.

After talking about it with our own team and with some client-side PR managers, I came up with this list of ways that companies can unwittingly jeopardize PR efforts (please note that I am not saying agencies are always blameless when PR does not deliver – rather, my intention is to reveal details within the client’s control that can be unproductive regardless of how good the agency is).

  • Give your internal PR manager responsibility for the effort without any authority – this way the PR manager can send the agency scurrying around on projects that get nixed
  • Make the PR program a political football – change goals and tactics based on the whims of company backers, executive team, marketing team
  • Don’t listen to the agency’s feedback, after all they are just vendors and “arms and legs”
  • Don’t offer feedback; hold up critical documents related to plans and messages
  • Corollary to above: Death by committee, i.e. a slow and onerous approval process
  • Have a poor understanding of PR and how it can support the overall business plan/goals
  • Expect PR to be a band aid for company or product problems
1 Comment
  • Heather

    March 2, 2010 at 1:03 pm Reply

    One more to add, it just works best when the company stays engaged on a regular basis with the agency. It’s tough when we get radio silence.

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