When parting, make sure you have nothing to be sorry about

While every issue of PRWeek is highly anticipated, I know you all wait for this particular one - our annual Agency Business Report - with a bit more enthusiasm.

While every issue of PRWeek is highly anticipated, I know you all wait for this particular one - our annual Agency Business Report - with a bit more enthusiasm. I certainly encourage you to read my colleagues' columns in this issue that speak more in-depth about our findings. However, I wish to focus on an admittedly touchy, but important, topic that every firm deals with - staff departures.

Each agency profile and listing on the agency rankings tables devotes space to either headcount figures or specific staffers who left the firm. Departures are a never-ending reality of doing business. However, there is a certain protocol that must be followed.

It is not uncommon for an agency executive to end up working at a client on whose account he or she spent much time. In turn, while that individual is no longer on the agency's payroll, there remains a working relationship between the two parties. As such, it is incumbent upon PR pros to ensure they finish up their tenure at the agency with integrity, diligence, and respect.

And it works both ways. In their new roles and companies, these exiting executives will surely forge relationships with people who their former agency might pitch down the road. You never know how a good - or bad - word from someone who spent time on the inside of that agency can come into play.

Experienced pros likely do not need a reminder about proper procedure when leaving a job. Younger pros, however, often require a reminder as to how important it is to do a good job for their company until the last minute of their last day there.

Youngsters tend to be impatient. They often believe the grass is greener on the other side. Or perhaps they think the firm isn't treating them properly. Feeling this way and acting upon it in a professional manner is fine. But when you enter the territory of bad-mouthing your former agency or slacking off during your final days, you run a risk that could come back to bite you.

In this issue's Corporate Analysis (p. 12), ICR president Don Duffy explains how an IPO is a long-term relationship with shareholders that does not end for as long as your company is public. The PR agency-executive engagement is similar. You are very likely to either maintain or re-establish some tie to the agency you are leaving, so departing on good terms is a good idea. Remember: a burnt bridge often proves to be very difficult to rebuild.

Gideon Fidelzeid is the managing editor of PRWeek. He can be contacted at gideon.fidelzeid@prweek.com.

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