In 2001, when it was time to break away from hitting the glass ceiling over-and-over again, I decided to become an independent contractor. PR colleague Paige Poulous offered her sage advice, “Always be looking for more clients.”
At the time, I had to simply find clients. “Always be looking” didn’t seem to fit my immediate need and goal to be finding clients, but I took her advice on advisement.
It’s now about ten years later, and clients have come and gone. Meanwhile, my “best fit” clients have stayed. The ones that go always leave room for growth and fresh new stories, so it works well.
And now, it is I who would tell someone just launching, “Always be looking.”
So, when Mr. Opportunity came knocking, I learned one more really important lesson; leave your door open by creating a waiting list.
A few years ago, I received a phone call. It was Mr. Opportunity. He was ecstatic to find that it was I who actually answered the phone. He told me that he really wanted me to do his PR, because I not only do PR, but I also write. He really wanted to talk to me some more, but at the time I was so busy that I couldn’t even entertain the thought; although I did appreciate his call. I had a couple of new clients with whom I had just started working and couldn’t even think beyond my nose. I thanked him for his interest, but let him go without even taking his name, number, or company’s name just to store it in my database.
(Imagine, someone who actually “got it” and wouldn’t have to be coached at every turn! What was I thinking?)
As it developed, one of the new clients, when their wines were reviewed and they really didn’t like the results, fired me. Killing the messenger seemed like the logical answer for them. And, since that time I’ve mourned my decision to let Mr. Opportunity just walk away.
Had I written down his name or the name of his company, perhaps we could have revisited a partnership at some future time, but now he’s always going to forever be The Man Who Got Away; a really tough lesson.
My advice to anyone starting a marketing/PR firm? Always leave your door open. Clients come and go, even when results have been great.
- All a company has to do is hire a new marketing manager who comes with his or her own relationships, and all that you’ve done to build a brand and its story could walk out the door in the blink of an eye.
- Something as fragile as a negative score can be attributed to you.
- A piece of sound advice can be taken as meddling, and you’re gone in the blink of an eye.
A “waiting list” is as great advice as “always be looking;” two great pieces of advice if you’re a PR person just starting out.
- Know a Good PR Firm? Burson Marsteller Needs One (crenshawcomm.com)
- Burson’s Social Reputation Damaged By Facebook Work (twofourseven.co.uk)