Sometimes it's right to say 'n0'

Two rousing cheers for the PR boss who parted company with his high profile client with the words: 'It would have been easy to stay and bank the money, but we don't put our name to work we don't believe in.'

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

The third cheer is reluctantly muted because Mitchell Kaye, the smart young MD of Mischief, might have been better to make his comments privately to his ex-client, the soon-to-be-rebranded Virgin Radio.

Yet his outspoken sentiments provide a boost for agencies and practitioners who are sometimes buffeted by clients’ changing demands. I know no more of the fall-out between Mischief and Virgin beyond what was reported in PRWeek.

But a confident PRO taking a principled stand on the integrity of his team’s work seems appealing.
An expert consultancy drafts a campaign based on its expertise to fit the client needs expressed in a brief. Both parties sign off on the campaign. Yet there can be a tendency among clients to switch criteria and aims on what can seem like a whim.

Sometimes this is prompted by elements of the client’s marketing team not originally involved in the campaign plan. Occasionally it can be down to an unwillingness by clients to understand the workings of PR. Confusion still exists between the complexities of our discipline and the certainties of advertising.

As a service industry we properly operate within a climate where the client tends to be right and our willingness to please is easily taken for granted.

But the truth is that obsequiousness does not deliver good value PR. The client who hires the right agency or consultant is paying what should be substantial fees for rigorous and sometimes tough strategic advice based on knowledge and experience.

Aside from flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, a well constructed campaign is worth sticking to. It is the reason an agency has been selected.

I have no idea of the creative differences between Virgin and Mischief. But for an industry prone to overdo its willingness to please, this sounds refreshing

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun

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