Sunday, March 1, 2009

Looking at the Bigger Picture -- A Real-Life Fable

Once there was a client who hired an agency of record, which developed a PR program that called for lots of writing for the CEO. Now the writing was not bad – it just wasn’t the way the CEO liked it.This happens all the time and, with the help of the CEO and the prime client contact, the agency usually figures it out.

In my fable, however, it turns out that the CEO had worked with a public relations director in a previous job for 10 years. Now, that PR director was out of work and freelancing. Guess to whom he turned for work? And guess what the CEO did? Started giving him the writing assignments the agency was getting wrong. The agency complained to the client contact who, in the inimitable fashion of many clients, said, “you work it out.”

Now if times were flush, most agencies would confront the client with “that is not how you treat an agency of record”. The freelancer would probably go away and everyone would live happily ever after. And, if the client refused, the agency would terminate the relationship and focus on winning the next piece of business.

But, times are not flush and priority #1 is the care and feeding of your current clients. So the agency stepped back, thought about the bigger picture and came up with a creative solution. The AS contacted the freelancer, who, as it turns out, had significant experience in a segment the agency was trying to crack, but was limited in what he could do because he was a one-man band.

The agency created an alliance with the writer agreed that he should continue to write for the CEO in return for entrée into important new prospects under a shared revenue scheme.
It was a win-win for everyone. The client got the writer it wanted; the agency kept the rest of the business and won new business; and the freelancer boosted his revenue and had an agency at his back for support.

Talk about turning a negative into a positive!
Sounds like media training 101. Instead, it’s a way of looking at a situation that on the surface “sounds” like a problem. But, in reality represents an opportunity.

There are talented people who have started their own agencies or freelance business. They may need your support and you may need their talent and their contacts.

Today, look at the bigger picture.

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