Wanted: more clients’ voices

“We prefer not to comment on this at this time.” Is it us, or do brand managers and marketing managers in the region representing some of the world’s most noted advertisers, have anything to say on topics relevant to them, ever?

From time to time, subjects arise within the industry that have a direct impact on brands themselves. Whilst talking heads on the advertising side of the business are relatively simple to come by, willingly offering opinion and entering debate, more often than not, the client side prefers to keep ‘schtum’.

Having impressed their employers enough to become brand guardians, surely it follows that they are also trusted to express a point of view on appropriate topics to help move the industry forward?

There are notable exceptions; committee members of the Advertiser’s Business Group, we salute you. But the same few voices can’t possibly speak for the numerous brands in the region, particularly when comment specific to a sector is needed. So, please, tell us clients, why so shy?

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2 Responses to Wanted: more clients’ voices

  1. Often in this region it seems clients are terrified of being associated with anything that they don’t control completely and will simply shut their eyes and hope it goes away.
    As a journalist, I’ve often had to repeatedly badger the PR to persuade the client otherwise – if the story is worth running, we’ll simply go elsewhere for comment; a route that the client will have even less control over.
    It’s always better to say something. It should be noted that often the PR will be all too aware of this, and the frustration with their clients will show through.
    Generally the more media-savvy the organisation, the less of a problem it is.

  2. aimee says:

    I think the answer to this is quite simple really.

    Firstly – companies should have nominated spokespeople.
    Secondly – they have outlined:
    * what topics do we proactively discuss
    * what discussions should we join / comment on
    * what do we need to know to appear well informed to our clients

    So – what happens when Campaign asks an advertising agency for comment? It ticks all of the above boxes – they see the opportunity to comment as PR, and therefore as an opportunity to win business. And so they should.

    To companies in other industry sectors, the opportunity for someone who may not be a designated spokesperson, to give their subjective opinion (not one discussed as part of company strategy or ethos) on a topic that is nothing to do with their industry, is not seen as a positive.

    Furthermore – most PR people will tell you that the PR person should never be the story, so to be featured in an article commenting on another industry can be seen as self-defeating.

    My argument to clients used to be that demonstrating a breadth of expertise across the executive team was a positive step for the company – the CFO should be quoted in Accountancy Age, the IT Director in Arabian Computer News, and yes, the CMO in Campaign. Many companies don’t subscribe to that view – it had a limited success rate.

    That’s my 2c anyway – interested to hear other views?

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