Turning PR work away (when to say NO)

How often does a PR company get approached by a potential client who believes they have a unique story to tell and has very high expectations about the level of media coverage they will gain – and yet when the brief comes in, they have a totally "me too" offering and no real story at all. And not even something that could conceivably be "packaged" to make it more attractive.

Curiously, if you tell people that you don’t want to work with them,it seems to encourage them to pursue you even more – and yet it seems only fair and proper to still tell them no. If you enter into a business relationship knowing full well that it is likely to end in disappointment, then you are simply creating a rod for your own back. The agency staff will become demoralised working on something that has no real chance of success – and the client would have been better off setting light to the money in the company car park.

And yet – how many times do PR companies just say "Yes" – and take the money and wait for the inevitable failure to happen?

Knowing when to say no is probably a greatly underestimated business skill in the PR world.



  1. Another is not over promising. We took on a client that had been disappointed with its previous PR firm. They are delighted with us. But to be honest I’ve seen the previous work and I don’t think we are doing any better a job.

    The difference is we said up front this is tough, don’t expect miracles. The previous firm offered far more than they could ever realistically hope to achieve.


  2. Agreed – overpromising to simply win the business has never been a good idea – yet still highly prevalent I fear.

    Sadly, it tends to jaundice clients opinions of PR overall.


  3. I think we must just have got the same brief!


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