February 19, 2013
I totally get that you are trying to make a living and that someone at your radio station, newspaper, TV station, magazine etc. says that my client should be advertising with you. And maybe they should.
And I know you’re just trying to do your job. But you need to understand that sometimes you trying to do your job is keeping me from doing mine.
Which does not make me love you.
So here’s my top ten suggestions for media reps trying to get an agency’s attention:
Reach out and introduce yourself when you aren’t trying to sell something. Just let me know you’re there, you’ve been assigned to my client’s account and that you know we are the agency.
Acknowledge and honor the relationship I have with my client. That means you don’t write or call my client. Even if you’re having trouble getting through to me. Ever.
Understand there’s one of me and a ton of you. I’d love to have coffee or a beer with all of you. I’d like to get to know you. I’d be happy to hear about every new idea you have. But, I can’t. I simply don’t have enough time. It’s not you. It’s that there are a lot of you.
Find out how I prefer to communicate. Phone, text, email, carrier pigeon. And talk to me that way. It’s not that I am ignoring your efforts to reach me. It may just be that the demands on my day make it impossible for me to return a call or email, but I could text you back etc.
Trust that I know what I’m doing. I know about your media’s offerings and when the time and budget are right — I will reach out to you. I’m not dodging you or your products. It’s just not the right choice right now.
Stay in touch but do it gently. Don’t send me every sales flier. And don’t only contact me when you have something to sell. You say you understand my client? Prove it. Send me (and only me) an article you think is insightful and that my client and I might value. Be helpful and I will remember that.
Know that there’s a lot you can’t know. Clients come with their own baggage. It might be a budget issue we’re not allowed to talk about. Or a leadership change or board edict that means there’s something big coming that is impacting our choices. I won’t ever violate my client’s trust so I’d rather you think I am obtuse or stupid than say something out of school.
Don’t make me the enemy. If you mess up, tell me fast. If you gave me bad information, fess up. Missed a deadline or forgot to follow up — just say so. I get it, we’re all human. I’ll forgive almost anything. But, if you do an end run around me to the client – I’m going to find out. And that’s not going to end well.
Stick around. Remember when I said there were a ton of you? Well, there are. So be sure you reach out every so often, so I don’t forget about you. (by the way…every so often is probably once a quarter at the most.)
Care about what I care about. There are media reps that I do stay in touch with, grab a beer or coffee with etc. They’re the ones who have sent me a new business lead, served on a board with me, suggested me as a source to a reporter who was doing a story, connected with me (genuinely) on Facebook or other social networks, or found some other way to actually create a relationship with me that isn’t just about selling me something.
I know it’s a fine balance and there are probably days that you’d like to wring my neck, but we both need to make it work. After all — ultimately, we’re both committed to helping our clients.
And although I’m sure you’d rather it was someone else — I’m yours.
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