At PR Squared, Shift Communications' Todd Defren talks about the agony and esctacy of firing clients who drive your good people to drink--or worse, leave!--in a good economy. The good times are definitely here again when the war to retain talented employees (and get new ones) shifts into high gear.
Ahh I harken back to another era--remember the signing bonuses? Remember the car leases? Mmmmm.
BUT I DIGRESS...
What I really wanted to say is that Todd is right -- good PR and marcomm people will leave before they'll be stuck on the same account forever with an abusive prick of a client. Yes everyone can be difficult some of the time, but we're talking about the clients who LIVE to beat their "vendors" -- and that's what they'll call you. Plantation owners in a former life. Mean-spirited punks in the current one.
Most agencies say they value their employees, but few have the balls (or balance sheet) to let go of abusive clients. They'll do the usual--change out team members (usually by "selling" the account internally as being tough but rewarding, and by making the person who begged off look like a whimp).
The difficult thing for an agency is that rather than being seen as a partner in the client's business, the agency is often put in the scapegoat role. Your client keeps his or her job by blaming the account team and agency when things could have gone better (even if the client contact has been unreachable and unresponsive for four weeks, never mind drunk when you do finally reach them by cell in the evenings...).
On the other hand, when things go right, you're supposed to hope your client realizes and communicate that you had a hand in it. That PR success is always a byproduct of a well-founded strategy, flawlessly executed tactics, and most importantly: incredibly good timing.
If Todd fired you and you're not an asshole of a client, email me. ;-)