Thought Leadership

February 22, 2017

Don’t “Ghost” Us: Agencies Deserve Better Treatment than a Bad Tinder Date

Kathleen Reynolds

It isn’t always easy to tell someone that they’re “not the one.” Unfortunately, the alternative is much more hurtful. Director of Client Services, Kathleen Reynolds reveals why radio silence after a new business pitch is never recommended.


I get it. I really do. Choosing an agency is like a romance. Sometimes, it’s a whirlwind “love at first sight” that feels like a match made in heaven. Other times, it’s a slow courtship. Or even a broken engagement that leaves you afraid to love again. You may realize you’re just not ready to commit. That’s ok. Take all the time you need. Or move ahead with abandon, with the one you’ve chosen. But you know what? “Dump” the other agencies instead of “ghosting” us, as in – let us know you’re going another direction vs. going totally MIA for all eternity. We actually prefer it. And we deserve it.


Doing so is a hard call to make or email to write (just don’t do it via Post-It note, a la “Sex and the City”). Though honestly, even Berger’s infamous kiss-off to Carrie is more dignified than going radio silent and leaving me to wonder 1) Are you ok? 2) Should I keep calling back? 3) Was it you or was it me? I eventually get the point – you’re “just not that into” us. But by then I’ve invested more time. I’ve held back resources I could be using elsewhere. And I don’t like being left hanging.


Do I prefer the call in which you tell me I’m “the one?” Of course! I love those; I scream and giggle and run around to tell everyone in the office. I usually put out an announcement sharing our betrothal…err…partnership!


But the truth is, this is a part of agency life and I know how to move on. I know you can’t always pick us (even if I think you should). But agencies deserve to know one way or another. We put our heart into meeting with you and sharing ideas. We sweated to win you over. We probably even spent more on you than we should have. Most times, we don’t get anything in return. We’re ok with that. But we do this with the implicit hope and trust that you will respect us enough to keep us posted on how things are going, even if the news isn’t in our favor, or you aren’t ready to commit just yet.


There’s an art to dumping or being dumped well, of course. The agency should take the news gracefully, delving gently into your feedback without pushing you too far. And we should respect your decision no matter what. So I’m sorry for the times an agency has gone “crazy ex” on you. Showing up in your voicemail or your inbox uninvited, or not taking the news well if you had the courage to deliver it. When it’s me, I try to understand where the disconnect was, but there’s no reason to rake anyone over the coals – especially if we have hopes of rekindling the romance down the road.


So I get it. I’ve ghosted before myself. I’m not proud of it. But your RFP isn’t a Tinder date gone wrong. With a bad first date, you can regale your friends over drinks. But this is business and we should all be mature enough to give or receive bad news. So let us have it!

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