Many years ago, before I launched Propeller, I was an independent PR consultant. As a media industry specialist I picked up a nice job helping a big TV organisation do b2b media relations. I made myself visible and accessible and started to get calls from national media, which made me feel more self-important than usual.
But, like Icarus, I started to fly too near the sun. The TV group appointed a new CEO with whom I had no dialogue and there followed other senior changes, including a change of head programmer.
This was a high-profile job and several journalists were keen to get a scoop. Surprising as it may seem now, there was no senior in-house press resource to manage the news. I found myself taking calls from The Guardian, The Times and Financial Times asking me what I knew. I even got doorstepped leaving the client building, which is a rarity in b2b.
All I had to go on were unofficial scraps from my day-to-day client who was down the food chain and I ended up misleading a journalist.
Worried, yet headstrong, I left a message with the CEO’s office along the lines of "will you please make a decision so I can update my precious new journalist contacts?"
About ten minutes later, the fax machine (remember them?) stuttered into life with a terse one-line from the CEO effectively giving me the chop.
My day-to-day client, marginalised themselves, couldn’t save me. I had overreached myself, burnt a bridge I hadn’t even thought to build with the top man and, crucially, not yet learned the maxim I now follow religiously: with clients, what matters is what matters to the people who matter.