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NEVER TRUST A YES MAN… HOW SAYING “NO” TO CLIENTS CAN LEAD TO BETTER QUALITY COVERAGE, RESPECT AND REPEAT BUSINESS

December 17, 2019

By Harriet Scott, GingerComms founder and MD

We’ve all been there. Your top paying client has a very specific idea of how they envisage a campaign working. But how do you deal with it when you know, deep down in your heart of hearts, that the idea just won’t work?

 

It’s a tricky conversation to have and, in my opinion, one which is often passed off to junior or inexperienced staff, who lack the courage and expertise to fight back and offer an alternative direction.

 

But it’s a conversation we have week in, week out, at GingerComms and Ginger Research. Some of the UK’s biggest brands and PR agencies approach us with fully formed ideas which the client has bought into, and they are looking for a “yes” from us.

 

I believe that what makes us stand out from other news generation or PR research agencies is that we are not afraid, at times, to say “no”.

 

With over twenty years’ experience in national news at editor level, we understand what will – and won’t – work for national news media. Which is exactly why PR agencies and brands come to us.

 

We instinctively know what makes a news story and will get cut through on the ever-manic news desks.

 

Light and shade is important, as is taking a broad brush approach and using the research to create a story that has talkability and is shareable. Going down a narrow route, wedded to the brand’s key offering/initiative/campaign messaging, will automatically turn journalists off.

 

This does not mean that the only ideas which will work are dumbed down, overly tabloid, sensational or negative.

 

They simply need to be well thought out, not overly branded and above all, they must speak to the target audience of the media you are approaching.

 

The national and online media landscape has undoubtedly become a far more crowded and inhospitable space. With this in mind, PR campaigns have to bigger, bolder. They have to stand out more than ever before if stories are going to cut through the noise and make an impact.

 

That is why, as experts, PRs should feel confident pushing back on ideas that the client might be in love with, but just won’t achieve any coverage.

 

Without honest feedback and direct communication, PRs are merely saying “yes” to keep clients happy in the short term. In the long term, this does no one any favours.

 

In fact, our recent research into the issue of overservicing in the PR industry found that one of the key factors – according to PR agency staff – was not being able to say no to clients.

 

And however much the client claims the message is more important than the coverage, we all know that in the end, coverage is King.

 

So if you’re looking for a yes man, we’re probably not the right fit for you. But that’s OK.

 

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