In 30 years in the PR business – on both the client and the agency sides – I’ve always been fascinated by corporate clients’ complaints about their PR firms. (I’m happy to say the complaints have not been about our firm, but about OTHER firms.)
In fact, we’ve often solicited this information from client-side colleagues who have worked with other PR firms, so that our agency team would know – and avoid – what behaviors bug clients the most.
Here are some of the most common client complaints about their firms:
1. The agency staff is arrogant, condescending and treats me like I’m an idiot.
2. The agency never comes up with new ideas or opportunities; they wait for me to do it.
3. The agency’s billing practices are a shambles … invoices are late, unpredictable and lacking in explanation.
4. The agency pushes my work off to junior people who don’t know or understand us or the market. I only see the senior people when there’s a meal involved and I’m paying the bill!
5. The agency is slow to respond … I’m always waiting to hear back from them.
6. The agency creates more problems than they solve – making my job more difficult rather than easier!
7. The agency fails to keep me informed of project progress. I have to ask.
8. The agency proposes ideas before doing their homework, wasting effort and billable time on things that are totally unfeasible.
9. The agency staff doesn’t make the effort to learn more about my organization, our customers, our challenges, our industry or our competitors.
10. The agency staff seems more concerned with generating billable hours than with delivering strategic counsel, solid tactical execution and real-world results.
11. The agency staff talks (usually about themselves, other clients or their self-proclaimed expertise) more than it listens.
12. The agency has a lackadaisical attitude about correcting errors or problems.
13. The agency works harder getting recognition for their own firm than for their clients.
Okay, client-side professionals, you’ve shared your complaints. Now, tell us what you like best about your PR firm…