How do we reclaim our glory?

Agony uncle and University of Westminster's visiting professor of PR Trevor Morris gives it to you straight.

Trevor Morris: "When things go well, everyone wants to claim the glory."
Trevor Morris: "When things go well, everyone wants to claim the glory."

I am a head of corporate relations. We use a major advertising agency. It is quite good. But any success in terms of sales is always claimed by the agency and our marketing director, even when there is evidence that PR made an important contribution. How can I claim some of the glory?

The problem with aphorisms is they are only ever half true. Nonetheless, I do like the one that says "success has many mothers, but failure is always an orphan".

When things go well, everyone wants to claim the glory. The problem is that because advertising has big budgets, everyone who agreed the budget, which will often include the CEO, has a vested interest in saying: "It is the advertising what done it." If they didn’t, it would be admitting they had made a bad choice and wasted money.

More annoyingly, because advertising has a big budget, it gets more to spend on evaluation. Spending £50,000 to evaluate a £1m ad campaign seems reasonable to most finance chiefs. Agreeing to spend £50,000 to evaluate a £100,000 PR campaign does not. So PR is seldom properly evaluated.

The only real consolation is that when things get tough, your reputation is under attack, the Government is being difficult and the media are knocking at your door it will be you and your team, not the ad agency and marketing director, that the CEO will want. Meanwhile, always call the marketing director "head of sales". It won’t change anything, but will annoy them.

Got a problem? Contact Trevor at

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