20 Lessons I Learned My First Year As An Entrepreneur
2. The client verses the contact. As a PR professional, whose side are you on in reality and who do you really need to hitch your wagon to? It’s a valid question (and one that I’m sure comes up in other industries and fields as well).
The initial response of course is always — the client. The client is the one who is paying your bills, who you represent, who you always need to side with. But at the same time, it’s important to remember that those bills will only be paid as long as you are getting that client results (and in my case, in the newspaper) and for that you need contacts. So the right answer becomes gray.
For me, a great example came with a client and their photo shoot with the local newspaper. I pitched the client’s annual gala event to the section editor and was promised the cover spot. (Great news!) The paper’s photographer was sent out to meet me and the client’s team on a Monday afternoon. I was told to have 12 people present for the photos –and of course props. I relayed the information to the client — but looking back was not adamant enough in my direction. I was soft — because it was my client…and I didn’t want to pressure them…or be too aggressive with my direction. The photo shoot went well and the props were a hit!
However…four days later, the section editor was on the phone telling me how I messed up the section, and that my client would no longer be on the cover. Why? Because there were only eight people that showed up and the picture choices as a result were slim. I immediately apologized to the editor explaining that this would not happen again, accepting her decision to take us off the cover (there was no persuading her), taking the blame, but at the same time making sure that my important relationship with her — the contact — was not ruined.
Lesson at the end of the day? Regardless of your industry — media relations, financial, sales or otherwise — make sure you are keeping your clients happy as they are the ones paying your bills; but also treat your connections right…especially if you are depending on them to keep the clients coming back for more!