Going the extra mile – but not ten miles

PR’s leading journal – PR Week – has revealed that the industry is in the grip of an ‘overservicing epidemic’ which is causing a fifth of staff to consider quitting.

Apparently nine out of ten agencies admit to overservicing, with one in five overservicing EVERY single account they work on.  Causes of this epidemic include goalposts shifting on projects, high expectations from clients, unrealistic targets set in order to win new business, media being harder to penetrate and not being able to say no to clients.

It is a problem we are very much aware of and, of course, are sometimes guilty of. And in the current climate, when budgets are being squeezed and clients are looking for more bang for their buck, it is easy to see why it is becoming more prevalent. However, we are a business and overservicing is neither good for the bottom line or staff moral and wellbeing.

Several of the ‘reasons’ behind overservicing have been bugbears of ours for some time.

For example, agencies who effectively have professional pitch teams – who walk in and promise the earth and then are never seen again, leaving the account team to face an uphill battle to deliver.

Or agencies that will go to any lengths to win business, undercutting others and working for peanuts. This devalues PR and communications services for everyone.

Delivering effective campaigns and services to clients is obviously paramount and the fact that the majority of our clients have been with us for several years shows we do achieve that. We believe in agreeing activity levels at the beginning of a relationship so that everyone knows where they stand. This gives the client clarity on what they will receive and encourages the team to create realistic campaigns and work smartly to deliver them. Things change along the way but honesty, consistency of team and employing people with the right skills can go a long way to avoiding persistent overserving.

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