Don’t drink the client Kool-Aid

PR professionals are supposed to be evangelists for the brand, especially when they’re pitching the media, but losing all objectivity is dangerous, so be careful.

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She confessed that she now looks at their products differently. What used to be leading edge now seems middling, even mediocre.

We laughed about her newly critical judgment, but it got me thinking about drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid. Direct experience with a client’s products or services is essential, and it’s natural to be an advocate. If you’re on the front lines in our business, which usually means pitching media, you need to be an evangelist.

On the agency side, we usually work hard to be a member of the team. Even before we win a client, we try to learn their processes, culture, and structure. We adopt the acronyms and jargon and strive to function as an extension of their own marketing or communications team.

But sometimes we do our job too well. A degree of objectivity is more than helpful; at times, it’s essential. We need to keep a full understanding of brand and corporate issues. We need to know what’s perception and what’s reality, without blurring those lines too much. Our best and most objective judgment should inform our recommendations and our commitment to outcomes.

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