Friday, November 19, 2010

Economic Downturn? Wouldn't Believe It By This Story

We've been living through an economic downturn that in scale is unlike anything we've seen in this country in easily more than 30 years -- some say since The Great Depression. Yet you wouldn't know it to read one tale involving a major international PR firm.

The PR Coach featured an interesting tale of a small Dallas-based software company that markets a technology platform for restaurants trying to hire a major international firm.

As is often the case, the in-house marketer had to work furiously to convince senior management to hire a PR firm. After a few weeks of reluctance, he gave in and the marketing executive brought representatives from a well-known firm in for a meeting. Following a meeting that involved a variety of team members, including high-level officials, an agency executive indicated they'd be putting together a proposal that the prospect would have within a week's time.

More than two weeks went by without any response from the firm, despite attempts to get information on the proposal's status via e-mail, cell phone outreach, etc. Finally, another executive in the agency is reached, apologizes and indicates the senior member of the team who met with the prospect has been traveling and will put together something soon. Perhaps not surprisingly, nothing was ever submitted by the firm, leaving the in-house marketer frustrated and furious.

Unfortunately, it's a sad tale that irritates many who don't work in the global agencies. While their bottom line can withstand not getting that prospect's business, their actions damage the industry as a whole and are one of the prime reasons we have an image problem. Paradoxically, they're also in many cases the same firms that head up PR industry efforts to rehabilitate its image. Anyone else see a problem here?