Confessions of an Account Exec: Don't Misrepresent Your Client
Bridget M. Forney | MediaBuzz
At the beginning of the semester, we hired new interns, as the firm always does. On his first day, one of the interns proceeded to tell me that he had never heard of R-A Sushi, one of our clients. When I corrected him that, in fact, the client is RA (pronounced like raw) Sushi, he continued to tell me that he doesn’t think that people like to be reminded that their sushi is raw and prefers to call it R-A. Also, that he’d never been to the restaurant before and basically knew nothing about the client.
Maybe it’s because I’m protective of my clients, or that I personally enjoy RA Sushi, but I explained to him, somewhat defensively, that the concept is actually quite popular and thousands of people love it.
This story is a great example of a very common mistake that PR professionals sometimes make: misrepresenting the firm’s client base. Whether by misinformation or lack of knowledge, such an avoidable mistake is inexcusable. Interns and all other staff of a public relations firm are, by employment, given the privilege to represent the agency and, by default, its reputation. Just as a student athlete dresses formally for trips to away games as a representation of their school and community, a PR professional represents the agency at which they work by accurately and positively representing its clients.
The fact is, what upset me about the intern’s overzealous statement is that if he felt comfortable saying it to me, who knows what he is saying about RA Sushi outside of our office and in what capacity.
As an account executive, a large part of my day is spent publicizing the events, missions, and initiatives of my clients. Public relations is an industry concerned with maintaining the public image of businesses, nonprofits, organizations, people and programs. A little word-of-mouth slander from any employee of the firm is counterproductive to our work and our cause.
As I said before, this mistake, though common, is extremely avoidable. With a little research and some Googling, you can learn about each client and what they do so that you can do your part in maintaining their public image and supporting your company’s efforts.