When should a PR agency break up with a client?

It’s hard to do, as they say. But sometimes breaking up is a necessary part of a PR-client relationship.

So is it ever a good business move to fire a client?

Most of us have thought about it on occasion. But it’s particularly painful during lean times, and nearly always irrevocable.

Here are some key factors that should influence a decision to split.

It’s a (financial) loser. If you’re consistently losing money on a client program, it’s obviously a viable reason to say goodbye. But that should only happen after trying to bring work and compensation into balance. Although most agencies gain efficiency—and profitability—as time goes on, sometimes we fall victim to “scope creep.” That’s one thing. But a client who is never satisfied is something else entirely. Lose them.

It’s tying you down. Sometimes agencies end a client relationship for the opportunity to pitch a larger, more profitable competitor. In my experience this is nearly always a losing strategy, not to mention bad karma. It usually pays to dance with the person who brought you, as my grandmother used to say.

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