In marketing & PR, nothing beats time in the chairI’ve just finished reading a blog about PR measurement that whilst wonderfully interesting, kinda made me annoyed.

In the blog post the writer – a very senior large agency person tells the story of a junior account executive whose client had threated to end their relationship because her reporting wasn’t up to snuff. The benevolent writer explains to the “talented junior” that it wasn’t really her reporting, but that she misunderstood what the client was really after – ie: sales, not ‘buzz’. And so the junior learned her lesson and all was well in the world.

Except that the client had their money WASTED so a lovely junior could earn her stripes. Where was someone to guide her? I’m sure the client thought they were going to get that.

What is it about some larger agencies that they think it’s okay to hand off client business to lovely young things that have absolutely no serious experience to bring to the table. A junior can help certainly, but to leave them in charge of a major client launch? I don’t think so.

Being handed off to a junior is often clients number one bug-bears about dealing with an agency, be it advertising, PR, marketing, etc. The next big bug bear is rates – how can anyone justify paying $150+ per hour for someone with no serious skillset, no business experience and little saavy – but that’s what juniors are usually billed out at. It’s almost funny – except that it’s not. Having said that though, really it’s not about the price, it’s about the cost to the business owner or brand. The wrong person launching your product/service/brand is far more costly than an hourly rate.

Time in the chair – think of it this way

If you were building a house (a similar sort of risk to launching a business/product), you’d meet with the builder, agree a price and the scope. What if at that point he introduced you to his first or second year apprentice to work out the finer details including the plan, buying the materials and knocking it all together (then the builder said he’d check in again when you wanted to spend more money) – you’d run a mile, but that’s essentially the big agency way.

Any wonder clients are flocking in their droves to smaller consultancies (or solo consultants) with time in the chair, who’ve disavowed the whole ‘big agency’ concept. My favourite consultancies that I’ve worked in or led have been staffed by more senior industry folks with time in the chair who just want to get in and do a great job – no buzz, just results. Much more fun for the consultant and much more satisfying for the client.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some fabulous juniors with great potential to be found out there. They’re just lacking about 10 years experience before they can really understand what the client really needs (and sometimes that’s different from what the client says they need), the right strategy to get there and the experience to deliver it – on time and on budget.

Kristin Austin is a marketing & communication strategist and trainer who’s been doing the marketing ‘do’ for almost 20 years. She can be found hanging out in social media land – for her clients’ benefit of course when she’s not working on client programs, strategy or writing them content. You can follow her @glitteratichic or click on the LinkedIn icon on the right handside to connect there. If you’re not on social media and still want to connect – she’s happy to talk marketing and business boosting over coffee.


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