Sunday, January 27, 2008

Letitia Baldridge where are you now that we need you?

Is there a place for manners in business? I’d like to think so. Am I fooling myself when I think a good relationship with a client implies some sort of, um, “relationship”, and the various courtesies and considerations that go with it? Could be. But to many in business, the agency is just some vendor. No respect required.

Two of the things I hate are when I have to let somebody go and when I have to tell someone who applied for a job that they didn’t get it. My guess would be that among those people I had to let go are folks who don’t much care for me, think I made a mistake, think I handled it poorly – or all three. Goes with the territory. But believe it or not, it’s not something anybody likes to do.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it. You do. And you have to tell someone why they either didn’t get or no longer have the job. If nothing else, it’s good manners. It’s what adults do. Some clients feel that way when they end their relationship with you. Others don’t feel the need.

Nobody on either side of the ball thinks a client is going to be a client forever. That’s not reality. And there are any number of good and bad reasons why a client makes a change. You’ve done a poor job, the chemistry isn’t there, the boss wants to work with his buddy’s agency, or it’s being taken in house. Doesn’t matter what the reason is. The client is the client, and as far as I’m concerned, even if I don’t agree with their decision, it’s theirs to make. That’s business and that’s fair.

But when you’ve worked hard for someone, gotten along well with them, gone the extra mile to save them money or save their ass, been honest in your dealings with them, done your best, and even reached out to help them when they told you they had no money to spend, you’re entitled to something better than to simply wake up one morning and see ads and spots for a business that you thought was your client.

Maybe we’re the only agency that has ever happened to and perhaps we deserved it. I’d be surprised, but I’ll never know. Nobody ever said anything to us and pride prevents me from calling up and asking. (I know, I know. You don’t have to say it. But I’m too old to change now.)

There’s a great line in the movie “All the President’s Men”. Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) helps himself to Bob Woodward’s (Robert Redford’s) copy and edits it. Woodward/Redford tells Bernstein/Hoffman: “It’s not what you did. It’s the way you did it.”

That applies here.

(There. Now it’s out of my system and doesn’t bother me anymore. A blog is a wonderful thing.)

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