Six Reasons PR Firms Get Fired


Even though I’ve been in a PR agency for quite a few years, I still remember what it was like to be responsible for agency activities within a corporation. That experience gives me a little insight into clients’ pet peeves about their agencies.  Senior PR agency managers are generally pretty savvy from long experience about what not to do. But not everyone in their organizations has the experience – or the training – to know.  For their sake, here are some tried and true ways that public relations agencies and their account teams put their client relationships at risk. 

 Agencies get fired for:

 1. Not managing the client’s expectations.  Often this happens because the agency over-promises to win an account.  This may help win new business, but it usually results in trouble and leads to frequent client turnover for an agency.

2. Allowing the lines between business and friendship to become blurry in the client relationship. The relationship, no matter how friendly, is rooted in business.   When the team members forget this, problems can develop that can lead to bad feelings on both sides.  

3. Providing unrealistic budgets and then exceeding them.

4. Disappearing for weeks at a time without making contact with the client. Even if the agency is working diligently on its own, clients want progress reports.

5. Shoddy writing that is poorly organized and has grammatical or spelling errors, or factual mistakes because the writer hasn’t bothered to pay attention to details.  Either the client has to spend valuable time editing or re-writing, or throw it back to the agency to be re-done. A frequent complaint we hear about “the last agency” is that the account team had poor writing skills and/or produced sloppily written materials.

6. Not measuring results. If the client isn’t given a ruler to measure the agency’s performance, then the agency sets itself up to have the results questioned. And the client has nothing to show top management to justify budget requests.

Some of these are so obviously destructive that it’s hard to understand why agencies aren’t vigilant in preventing them. And yet they happen over and over again.  Agency management usually does know that certain types of behavior ask for trouble, but knowing it is one thing; preventing or eliminating it is much harder.

Great agency management and sound ethics should result in long-term client relationships.  However, sometimes agencies lose clients even when everything is going well, through budget cuts or changes in a company’s needs.  It’s a tough business, but I wouldn’t choose any other!

Lucy Siegel

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One Response to “Six Reasons PR Firms Get Fired”

  1. Tweets that mention Six Reasons PR Firms Get Fired « BridgeBuzz -- Says:

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