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CEO, Don’t Let Your Agency Destroy Your Brand!

by David Brock on November 20th, 2015

I always hate having to start a post with an apology.  I’ve many friends and clients that run outstanding agencies.  Unfortunately, like so many professions, there are too many bad practitioners.  The adversely impact your reputations and those of their clients.  My apologies to those friends and clients, I really respect your work.

Somehow, I’ve found my self on the “list” of dozens to hundreds of PR and other Marketing agencies.  I get at least a dozen requests each week.  People sending me press releases about the latest greatest wonderful product their client has launched, a partnership their client has entered into, or the opportunity to interview the CEO or some other top exec.

The dozen that get through are the “new” requests.  I relegate each one to my Spam folder, so I don’t get the endless follow ups, “Did you receive  my original email.”

There’s an interesting irony in these emails.  These agencies tend to position themselves as experts in messaging and connecting effectively with audiences.  In addition to traditional “PR,” many of these agencies also do demand gen—presumably applying the same brilliance in thinking to targeting and communicating with prospects.

But each of these emails always follows the same pattern:  1. Let me tell you about my wonderful client.  2.  Let me tell you about their great stuff.  3.  You need to take your precious and valuable time to talk to us about the great things we want to tell you.

Many of these things are interesting and noteworthy, but I simply don’t care.

There’s never anything about me, why I should be interested, or why my audience would be interested in my take on these issues.

If they wrote, “Dave, I’ve noticed you writing about these issues in the past month or so.  My client has a point of view that you will find intriguing.  She believes……..”

That might stimulate some interest on my part, but of course I never get a note like that because these people have never read my blog.  They have no idea what I write about, what might be interesting to me and my audience.  My name was just on their list, so I get the same mind numbing emails as hundreds of others.

In fact, if they really read my blog, they know I never write about company’s new products, what the CEO of some company thinks about their product and market strategies.   So, as interesting as the CEO might be, however, enjoyable our conversation might be, I’ll probably not write a thing or promote the company.

Some months ago, someone at an agency somehow persisted long enough to get my attention.  Out of frustration, I sent a response, “I don’t write about the stuff you and your client want me to write about.  While I’m sure the CEO is interesting, and we would have a very enjoyable conversation.  But it is unlikely I’ll write anything, so any conversation would be a waste his time and my time.”

She persisted, “He would love to speak to you (I’m sure she didn’t check with him).  Can you please, please, please take some time.”

Finally, I responded, “OK, you’ve worn me down.  I’d love to talk to him, but this is what I want to talk about, the surf has been really good at Dana Point this year, what is his company doing to help maintain the good surf?  If he is willing to spend time with me on this topic, I’m glad to invest my time (would love to continue to see great waves.)”

Odd thing, it seemed a compelling topic, certainly one I was very interested in.  Never heard from her or the CEO.

CEO’s and CMO’s need to be worried about this horrible prospecting by the agencies representing your companies.  I try to separate issues, thinking, it’s just an agency hack, someone milking clients of their valuable marketing dollars.  But these efforts adversely impact your brand.  Many of us view your agency as indistinguishable from your company.

You certainly wouldn’t tolerate this kind of inappropriate prospecting with your sales teams.  You shouldn’t tolerate it from your agency.

The agency is using your precious marketing funding to produce not just bad results, but they are getting people to think poorly about your company and brand.  Yes, they are probably coming to you saying, “We’ve gotten the word out!  We’ve contacted a quajillion influencers.  They will be writing dozens of articles promoting your stuff!”  (For those of you who don’t know, a quajillion is a large number.)

But most of us aren’t.  In fact we’re getting quite annoyed, everything gets spammed.

Even worse, your agencies are doing this in the “influencer community.”  The impact of a pissed off “influencer” can be very painful.  You try hard enough to build your brand, don’t let your agency destroy it.

Your agencies owe you high quality work that produces results and builds the strength of your brand!  Your agency is supposed to be the pro’s at communicating, reaching your intended audience, maximizing the impact of what, who, and how you communicate.  Make sure they are doing their job.

If you need some agencies that take the time, do their homework, and have a great impact, I’m glad to share them with you.  But if your current agency is “prospecting” in the influence community this way, then stop them!

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