Like most businesses, we’re hoping to leave much of 2009 far behind us, including an unpleasant trend we saw gather momentum as the year-that-wouldn’t-end continued its trek to the finish line.
Specifically, the trend is the new business prospect who is inconsiderate, rude and ill-mannered. There, we said it and it needed to be said. It seems that the past year brought more of these prospects to our doorstep than ever before. For example, we were requested to provide a proposal for a customized PR solution in less than a day to a serious business problem a firm was encountering. We dropped what we were doing and did so gladly believing it to be both urgent and a perfect fit with our capabilities. To date, three phone calls asking for feedback have yet to be returned.
Another prospect requested us to participate in their search process with three other agencies with the first step being an “information gathering” meeting. After waiting nearly 45 minutes (because the first agency was allowed to go beyond the time allotted to each participating agency), we were hurriedly ushered in to the stuffy conference room, business cards exchanged and the clock started ticking.
Within minutes of beginning our presentation, the person spearheading the search whispered to a colleague and then left the room. As of this writing, we have never heard from anyone in that organization, including the person who left the room and who has also not responded to a friendly e-mail asking for an update.
Finally, we participated in numerous teleconferences with a prospect, each one requiring a revised, more detailed document until it came close to resembling a plan. A huge investment of our expertise and time. The prospect then announced they had decided to do everything in-house, using our work as their road map, of course.
Each of these prospects are well-known organizations and with seasoned communications professionals in place. It’s baffling that any organization, but especially those of their stature, would behave as they did.
We hope 2010 brings a return to a higher caliber, more professional search process and behavior by organizations seeking to establish a relationship with a PR firm. In the meantime, we can only imagine the type of a client any of these three organizations would be if their behavior as a prospect was so distasteful.