The most terrifying PR clients

If you run into one of these characters at a Halloween party, you’ll be truly frightened.

PR professionals have nightmares all year long that are much scarier than anything to do with ghosts and goblins. Ours actually pertain to real people—the clients we serve.

Forget black cats, this Halloween season we’re highlighting the most terrifying clients to cross a PR pros path.

The micro-manager. We’ve all had this one. He 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.

The DIYer. I’m not talking about a client that wants you to do it all yourself. I’m talking about the client that gives you an order and does it himself. For example, 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.

The unforgiving client. Not sure whom this client crossed, or who crossed the client, but making a mistake with her is not a pretty sight. She may treat you like a blithering idiot for the remainder of the relationship or ask for you to be transferred off the account. Yikes!

The love you/hate you client. Oh, this one may be the worst. He praises you daily and then two weeks go by without a placement and the horns come out. Suddenly, you’ve produced no results and are the worst agency with which he’s worked.

The inhumane client. This client has zero respect for anyone. She throws out new deadlines and assignments on Fridays at 5 p.m. for a deadline of Monday at 8 a.m.

The never satisfied client. This client is insatiable. 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. Or offers you this doozy: “You got us on the ‘Today’ show—great. But our segment was only two minutes.” Sheesh!

The “I want my money back” client. You don’t want to meet this one—trust me.

The O.C.D. client. Everything has to be in Calibri and 1.75 spaced. You have to spell out every last detail in summaries, but keep it to 250 words. Everything—memos, emails, etc.—must be in AP style.

The ad person in a PR title client.
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.

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.

The talker. This is the client who can talk the birds out of the trees and eats up your whole budget with calls and face-to-face meetings to discuss minute issues or even her personal life. She seems lonely and needs her agency to make any decision, big or small.

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.

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.

Jennifer Nichols is co-founder and CEO of FlackList, where media can easily search and connect with brands, PR reps and expert sources within a social network setting as well as access the latest news.

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