Q: I have a client with a limited knowledge of English and little
marketing experience. His lack of understanding is seriously affecting
results, which reflects poorly on my agency. For instance, I recommended
we use the word "chosen" for a press release since it's much stronger
than "become," but he used "become" anyway. He also insists on branding
a product name with a symbol that has no meaning outside of the
engineering community. What can I do when my client is his own worst
The Spicy Pisces, Los Angeles
A: Embracing the global economy seemed like so much fun, didn't it? One
imagined sipping champagne on the Riviera with clients, not haranguing
them over syntax. Cultural differences and language barriers create a
range of potential pitfalls.
However, you shouldn't let your clients nationality become the
Your problem is no different from the America tech-head who wants to
talk in unintelligible jargon. You should explain that his expertise is
in the product, while yours is in communicating it to the general
Q: Please tell me how to deal (in a non-violent way) with a VP who is
consistently 30 minutes late or more to scheduled meetings, who
regularly loses original documents, who casually disregards important
deadlines and is pretty much unresponsive to the needs of his/her
clients and team.
This behavior is driving me crazy and is making it nearly impossible for
me and my coworkers to meet our own commitments to clients. I've
discussed the situation with my supervisor and she shares my
frustration, but her hands are tied as she also reports to this person.
I enjoy my job and don't want to leave, but I'm starting to think I have
no choice. Suggestions?
Ms. B, New York
A: Resist your murderous impulses, precious. When you are as seasoned as
I, you will realize that the most offensive people are frequently
promoted beyond their abilities, simply to get them out of the way.
Moreover, you should not leave a perfectly good position because of one
Instead, protect yourself and prepare for the future. He or she will not
be able to sustain the facade forever. For now, thoroughly document
every example of unprofessional behavior. That way, when the din of
grumbling clients grows too loud to ignore, the VP will not be able to
blame it on you and will have to face the music alone.
QI've worked in PR for years, but usually under the guise of other
responsibilities and titles such as "marketing coordinator,"
"publications director" or "assistant director (of the organization)."
It's tough to bring my PR accomplishments to the front for prospective
Mr. R, Denver
A: Job titles are the last sanctuary of the inept. I once knew a
bungling SVP and GM of the CHCP in NY who slept with his nameplate
clutched to his chest, to remind himself of his polysyllabic
For your problem, I consulted Barry Shulman of recruitment consultants
Shulman Associates, who offered sound advice.
"Don't make it anymore difficult than it has to be," he said. "A simple
checklist with everything you have done in PR, supported with samples or
a portfolio, will surely underscore your core competencies."
It is your job as a PR person to show your talents to their true
As Barry so wisely put it, "Treat yourself as you would treat one of
- Got a problem that no one else can help with? Try Pandora. E-mail her
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