Stop Enabling Assholes


As an industry — I’m talking about public relations & marketing — we need to stop enabling assholes.

I’m not talking about demanding clients who expect great things from their agency partnership.

That is an entirely different and not at all poor behavior.

I’m referring to individuals who are downright mean to the agencies that support their efforts.

While they are small in number, they are large in presence, often overshadowing everything because of the way they carry themselves.

To wit, I once had a supervisor say this about a client: “He’s an asshole but he’s our asshole.”

While I agree with the spirit behind the statement, I wholeheartedly disagree with giving somebody a free pass to act like one and get away with it, even if they are the person responsible for the budget.

In this competitive agency world, where we fight for every nickel and put up with terrible client behavior, we let them walk all over us.

We watch colleagues cry after being berated by a client, even going so far as to comfort them and tell them everything will be okay.

But we won’t actually do anything about their behavior, because most agencies haven’t properly planned for this type of situation, even though we’ve all seen it happen time and time again.

This has to stop.

Let’s face it — the world seems chaotic nowadays, what with natural and man-made disasters taking up a lot of the time on the nightly news. The last thing we need is to work with those who make us feel small and incapable of doing the work.

The client-agency partnership thrives when both parties know what is expected of each other, and both sides work their tails off to produce results.

That is how a partnership should work, not with one individual lording his or her power over his minions.

Agency folks are hard workers, often juggling more than one client at a time.

They don’t need any more stress than necessary.

Let’s stop enabling those who treat us poorly, and begin to recognize those who treat us fairly and push us properly to do our best.

Those are the folks we want to work with, and those are the clients who will see the greatest results.