Knowing when not to over-deliver


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It’s a weekly routine that The Agency has a concall with The Engine.

Our Engine Boss put a very clear point across today – that he didn’t want to invest Agency resources on efforts that, frankly, didn’t need it.

The Engine is a busy, buzzing pot of brewing ideas. Some which fundamentally shake the industry it’s in and some…we shall not talk about. It’s concentrated effort just trying to keep up with all it’s doing or planning to do at a time. But our job as PR is to understand where we need to push pitches and where we shouldn’t be overextending ourselves.

Of course, when a client says that Campaign A is Mission Critical to said client’s organisation, you pull out all the stops.

But Engine Boss said of a current newspiece that, well, it was great to get word out, but it just wasn’t necessary for us to invest either our time or push the Engine into spending time/money to push said newspiece. Get the word out, follow up on who you sent the word to, assemble clippings, give a final report and seal it all with a nice piece of ribbon.

The first instinct, for most professionals in the client servicing realm, is to go all out to make your client happy. A butler in a first-rate hotel would make sure guests were well taken-care off. But if, say guest A, was not into the habit of reading the newspaper, ironing said newspaper for his reading pleasure every morning would be a pointless gesture. Instead, it would be better to make sure guest A’s sugar bowl was topped up to accomodate his sweet tooth. A non-ironed paper would likely go unnoticed; but an empty sugar bowl would lead to a cranky guest who would likely take his business elsewhere.

I’ve had conversations with people that go like this:

Me: So tell me, which is more important? Item A, B, C, D, E or F?

Person: What do you mean which is important? They’re all important!

Me: (tries not to have hernia) I mean, which takes first priority? They’re all important, but I can’t work on them all at once, this minute.

Person: You can’t? That’s such a negative, defeatist attitude. Look at President Obama. Do you think a black man became president by saying No, I Can’t? Just do it!

Me: (current ulcer is displaced by burgeoning hernia)

Person usually tends to have a sales background – sales/marketing people I’ve met tend to promise you the sun, moon, and stars…with their fingers crossed behind their back, knowing full well they’d be lucky if they could deliver the sand beneath their feet. And when they rise to positions of seniority, they feel affronted at your not being gung-ho and saying oh yes we can deliver/achieve 150 percent if we just believe it!

End result: Project is 2 months behind schedule, 50 percent over budget and nowhere near achieving the initial goals.

Dilbert is so much like real life, that it’s more scary than funny.

Remember, kiddos, overpromising your boss stuff might get you in his good graces for a while, but when shit hits the fan, guess who’s going to be cleaning up the septic tank?

Big hint: it’s not your boss.

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