Bad Client Barometer: 4 Red Flags to Protect Your Agency

A PR, marketing and advertising veteran of more than 35 years, Ned Barnett, president of Barnett Marketing Communications, has seen it all when it comes to agency/client relationships. Over time, he’s compiled a list of red flags in identifying clients that could present problems. Here they are:

  1. The client lies to the agency: “I had a client about four years ago who was dishonest with me,” says Barnett. “I regret that when I discovered it, I didn’t act on it right away and drop them.”

  2. They can’t pass the chemistry test: Barnett is of two minds about chemistry with clients—he’s had no chemistry at all with some clients and was still successful, yet he feels it’s good to have some common ground. “Zero chemistry can cause active hostility—it’s like a bad marriage, you shouldn’t be together.”

  3. There are philosophical differences: If the client believes in a cause that you find unworthy or distasteful, don’t take them on, says Barnett.

  4. You get a bad feeling in your gut: “A lot of this is intuitive decision-making,” says Barnett. So follow your hunches. 

PR News subscribers can read more from Barnett and other agency veterans about taking on controversial clients like BP and Bank of America in: "Media Relationships a Big Factor in Taking on Controversial Clients." 

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