Pros and cons of working with real people

I work in the world of public relations advising clients on how to get the reputation they deserve. They are a demanding lot – both good and bad. Happily most are good. I came across this excellent post on TWL with the following comment from an anonymous writer. He defined client as follows – it’s a bit like Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man but hits the spot - here it is:

Those you go the extra mile for:
The 'good lad/lass'. You work hard for them as they are just that.
The 'aww bless' who is completely useless but knows it and appreciates the fact you have saved their ass on many occasions.
The 'NKOTB' (New Kid on the Block). Stumbled into a senior position and spends the whole time thinking how the hell did this happen and what the hell is PR anyway? Confesses to you as much and is grateful of the help you give them.
Those you do you level best but no more:
The 'grabber'. Takes all the credit and never thanks the agency.
The 'scary git'. Highly demanding but sadly knows his/her stuff. Treats agency staff poorly and knows when the wool is being pulled over the proverbial. Usually from an agency background.
Those you deliberately sabotage. The 'ignoramus'. Has inherited the PR role as part of a larger marcoms brief and doesn't understand the value in it. Sees you as an unfortunate irritant that they have to deal with but would sack you in a second if they had the opportunity and would use your budget on daft advertisements or even worse, direct mail!
The 'c*@t'. Need I say more...
The 'idiot'. Perhaps the most dangerous. Thinks they understand PR as they did some work experience in a small agency 10 years ago. Has ridiculous expectations and will not take counsel. Thrives on a master/slave relationship and will blame the agency for what they perceive as terrible results but in actual fact is their own inadequacies.

I have my own take on this and it begins with the Five Clients I Love:

  1. Pays my company on time, when due and according to the contract. I love my job, I love the client, I love their product. But I have mouths to feed.
  2. Clients who tell it straight. Tell me what your business/marketing/strategy plan is and then we can deliver. You cannot polish a turd but we can make it float.
  3. Clients who don’t understand what a brief is… we can lead them to the promised land.
  4. Clients who like a chinwag. We like people, people are interesting, they have stories and tell them. I would rather have an argumentative chat with a client than a … dialogue.
  5. Clients tell me how I am doing. We all like praise but if we are not delivering to expectation we need to know otherwise how can we fix it?

These are the nice clients. Who are the baddies? Clients I dislike. Here’s five of them:
  1. Clients who pay late. Why? We’ve done the work, got the coverage and are proud of what we have done. Pay up for God’s sake.
  2. Clients who think they know what they want ie "we would like some PR because the CEO said it would be good". Why?
  3. Clients who lie. Client: “Yes, the website we are paying you to promote will be ready next week we just need you to populate it with content.” Us: “Content is done – we worked over the weekend to make sure it was ready.” Client: “We need to work on the website for the next month - why have we had no coverage in the press.” Us (inwardly): “Bugger – we’re not going to get paid for this and I missed my son’s birthday too.”
  4. Clients who don’t know what a budget is. A press release costs this much, a campaign costs this much, a retained fee is this. What don’t they understand?
  5. Clients who think I will lie on their behalf – No, no, no! That is not an option. We have a reputation too!

Or is it just me? Answers please

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