CK Culture

November 25, 2013

Grateful for My Most Demanding Client

Kathleen Reynolds

Kathleen Reynolds comes clean about why she appreciates even the toughest client of her career.

Sometimes, you just sync with a client. Your ideas gel; you hit the assignment out of the park; you’re both obsessed with Jon Hamm on “Mad Men.” On the flip-side, we’ve all come across “challenging” clients. Honestly, I’m grateful for them, too. Ralph, Anne and Dorothy are allowing me to spill the beans about one of these trying clients in particular. PR people, let me know if this sounds familiar:
· I should have known from the beginning. Instead of jumping into our recommendations and tactics, the ramp-up for this assignment was labor-intensive for everyone. On top of that, the client showed up early for our first meeting (with no heads up), but expected all our ducks to be in a row. Never a dull moment!
· Clients? What other clients? No matter what type of request he has, he expects an IMMEDIATE response (end of day, weekend, whenever)! While it’s nice to feel needed, it took months to convince Mr. Demanding that he could trust the other members of the stellar team in place, as opposed to just me, his designated Manager.
· Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: What impressed him Monday is often old news (or worse – infuriating) by Tuesday. Have you ever presented a well-researched strategy, gotten signs of approval and then received a blank stare from the client the next time it comes up? It’s enough to make the most seasoned PR professional go a little nuts. And when Mr. Difficult does crack a smile, I can only assume he’s laughing on the inside about our original scope of work, versus what we’re responsible for now, which feels like constant damage control to clean up his messes.
· PR person or psychic? As easy as it would be to request things in a straightforward, professional manner, it’s like reading tea leaves with this one to figure out what’s on his ever-changing mind.
Last week, I called my husband when the client went completely over the line by – no joke – biting. Then again, he only has two teeth. If you hadn’t guessed already, this “demanding” and time-consuming “client” is my sweet, adorable and loveable baby son. I am so grateful for the honor of being his mother (still hard to believe I landed the job). Being a parent taps into some of the same skills of a PR person, like the parallels above, but it presents a whole new set of challenges. Fortunately, one giggle from my little man makes my heart melt and everything else worthwhile.
In addition for being grateful for my son himself, I am also thankful for the outpouring of support and love that have come our way. Our friends and families (both biological and our CK family) have been incredible. There is no better group of colleagues to support you when you happen to cry at the coffee machine on your first day back. Then again, there’s no better baby to flap his little arms in delight when you return. So, to my sweet and in truth, only occasionally demanding “Gene Bean:” you are one “account” that I will never, ever resign!

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