Friday, May 05, 2006

The 5 Evils of Agency PR: #5 - Team Fatigue

This is 5th and final post in a series that discuss the "Five Evils of Agency PR."

#1 - Employee Churn.

#2
- Measurement Misunderstanding

#3 - Budget Flux

#4 - "Small Fish Syndrome"


#5 - Team Fatigue

It happens. You’re sick of your PR team. They are sick of you. There’s a sense of restless desperation on the weekly calls. There’s too much idle, friendly chit-chat and not enough hunger on the agency side. The team started out strong... but now you feel like you’re the one with all the ideas: your creative whiz-kids have become little more than arms and legs. The ink’s harder to come by, too.

Meanwhile, of course, Agency management is trying to goad and wheedle the account lead to "keep it going for a few more months." This grows tiresome to the account leader, whose weariness and angst start to rub off on the rest of the team.

Now re-visit Evil Post #1, re: Churn. The cycle begins anew!

*** *** ***

Y'know what bugs me about these so-called "5 Evils?" That they're not new. These problems have existed for a long time. I hate to sound bleak & bitter on a Friday morning, but ...

  • Too many agencies have given up on improving the high-pressure, "churn & burn" mindset that wipes out staff morale. (Not everyone, of course - I loved this post, and this one.)
  • Too many agencies have allowed other vendors to decide the fate of PR measurement.
  • Too many agencies have given up on the idea of retaining clients for more than 12 months.
  • Or, worse, they've decided to put as much attention as possible on keeping a select few "anchor" accounts, and give short shrift to the remainder of their clients.
These bad practices have been bad for the reputation of the reputation industry. (Say that 5-times fast!)

I think it is important to note that hardly any of these "evils" related to "Ethics." I've found most PR folks to be highly ethical (breaches occur in every industry). These evils are sins of laziness and of mis-directed focus. We could better help clients if we could improve our business models and training practices.

To me, it's all about the flywheel concept promoted in Jim Collins's classic Good To Great. We know what our problems are... if each of us applied a bit of pressure to each of these challenges, slowly but surely we'd build an industry that deserved true acclaim.

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