The Most Terrifying PR Clients

In the spirit of Halloween I decided to post an article from about the most terrifying PR clients. This was a fun article about something that can be scarier than any horror movie…. clients we may run into in our PR Careers

The author of this article, Jennifer Nichols, co-founder and CEO of FlackList, lists her 13 most terrifying clients. I feel you will be able to agree on almost all of these.

1. The Micro Manager. “He/She gives you a deadline for a document on Tuesday and on Monday—the day before its due—asks when he’ll be able to see it.”

2. The DIYer. This is the client that gives you a task, then goes ahead and does it themselves. Nichols lists the following examples, the clients asks you to contact a reporter and then reaches out himself. Or ask you to change a pitch and then sends you a new version just as you are finishing up the re-draft.

3. The unforgiving client. This is the client that holds a grudge. If you make one little mistake they will either look down on you forever or just go ahead and cut you from the job.

4. The love you/hate you client. Nichols claims this one may be the worst. This would be the client that constantly gives you praise then one day you are the worst enemy.

5. The inhumane client. The client that is pure evil. Nichols says this is the client that will give you an assignment on Friday at 5 pm, that will be due on Monday at 8 am.

6. The never satisfied client. Nichols lists the following examples of a never satisfied client: “You have 15 meetings with journalists in New York set up? Well, she wants to know why the two remaining slots aren’t filled. Or she asks why the Facebook post had fewer likes than the former.”

7. I want my money back client. Nichols simply states, “You don’t want to meet this one—trust me.”

8. The O.C.D. client. This one is your nitpicker. Font must be the same, minimum of words but no more than the max, and this client applies these rules to everything.

9. The ad person in a PR title client. Nichols claims, “This is the client who edits your pitches so that she can insert “marketing messages” into the copy and thinks that media will simply pick up whatever you send out and run it verbatim. She is only satisfied when the story resulting from an interview reads like an ad, and she keeps pushing you to pitch a business/workplace story to a morning show that only covers fluff.”

10. The Ellen/The View/Today-obsessed client. “It used to be “Oprah,” but now everyone seems to want “Ellen,” “The View” or “Good Morning, America.” And they don’t have a celebrity or a budget to do audience giveaways. Right.”

11. The Talker. Pretty self explanatory but the Talker will talk your ear off. This client also relies on you to listen to all their life problems.

12. The strategy seeker. “Does this sound familiar:’They get great media results, but don’t give us any strategy?’ Many a client has arrived on our doorstep with this lament about their previous firm and the reality that 99 percent of the time they don’t have the budget for strategic discussions or any of the big program ideas we threw into the pitch to get the business. But a month into the account they are screaming for the hits.”

13. The make me look bad client. “This is client who asks you to pitch top tier media promising juicy data or key interviews and then leaves the reporter—and you—hanging out to dry when he doesn’t deliver. It’s a surefire way to get your agency person blackballed from a reporter you will likely need to pitch for another client long after this client is gone. This is also the client who begs for media placements and beats down your door to get ‘results,’ but ‘forgets’ to return the calls of a ‘Today’ show producer for 2 days after your release goes out.”

This was an entertaining read, but also helpful for showing PR students what future clients may be like. At some point we will all likely deal with a client or two that will fit the bill of one of the above. Whether it be for a class, an internship, or in our career. As terrifying as that client may be, they can definitely be a good learning experience and can help us on future campaigns.


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