our greatest PR failure Calgary marketing agency

Jun 14 2024


Our Greatest PR Failure

By 2014, I had 21 year’s of marketing experience. I thought I knew everything about marketing and would never drop the ball on a project. Unfortunately, client management and negotiations aren’t exactly core aspects of marketing, they’re more of complementary aspects and are found in almost every other business function. In early 2014, I had been referred a client who had just published an amazing book on personal finance. Matterhorn’s role was to provide complete marketing services including public relations to help promote our new client and his book.

We built a new promotional website, which quickly outranked their main website, created videos, did photography, got an interviews and articles with the Calgary Herald and Globe and Mail but the real prize would have been an interview with the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal.

Our contract had a small fixed monthly payment plus 10 per cent of gross book sales. Unfortunately, there were no clauses about client performance on their side of the deal.

After a few weeks of talking to over 200 journalists, we bagged the whale – an in-person interview with a reporter from The Wall Street Journal. The interview was to be held in New York City and was based on adding expert content to a major US issue at the time. The hook that got us the interview was that ABC TV just used our client in a similar manner. If you can appreciate the difficulty in securing The Wall Street Journal (I’m not talking about the 99% of b.s. major media logos and references so many websites use to fain authority) and the subsequent benefits that would come – what followed would roll your eyes too. We didn’t really care about the Herald, Globe and Mail, or the ABC coverage – we wanted a Major outlet.

After the interview finished I spoke with our client. “How did it go?,” I asked.

His reply, “It went great, but to be honest, I know someone else who is even a bigger authority on the topic so I gave the reporter that person’s name to do the interview.”

I went silent.

I asked my client if he knew how many hours my team spent on him (out of my pocket) to make everything happen. That he may never get another opportunity like this. I realized my client wasn’t ready to become an international name in his niche but, more importantly, I didn’t have the patience to teach him what he wasn’t ready for. My client wasn’t ready to pay for media training because he had no idea what value he personally had as an expert in his area.

Years later, my client is still working in the same field and has even published another book but, if you Google him, the only news that comes up about him is the work we did ten years ago. Our greatest PR failure was not vetting him for being media savvy and not training him. We simply assumed he knew the value of our work (both to us and to his brand). Thankfully, letting him go soon after this event saved us ten years of frustration.

It might be safe to say that most people want to be wealthy but not everyone is ready to be wealthy.

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