I was in a meeting recently with a huge Holding Group CEO, when the discussion on media and advertising came up. In the discussion in emanated that the company did have a specific media specialist. They also just left it to ad hoc staff to manage as and when opportunities came up.

He then called in his ‘division manager’, who was to discuss the possibilities of us working with the group to promote their work, and drive brand engagement.

When the manager arrived, he was firstly peeved that the discussion was taking place without him, and then he went further to state that there was no need to assist as they already had a corporate dealing with their PR. I then scheduled another meeting with the CEO the next day, after I had done some home work.

This company named, with some relation to the moon :-), was a straight PR company.  I then took the time the next day to call the same company to pose as a client, and discover their offerings. Amazingly, the call was taken by a young woman, who sounded very eager to assist and manage my R40 000 p/m retainer budget.

I delved cautiously into what her personal background was, to know who I was going to give R40K a month too, and what I was going to get in return. She said she was still studying but was skilled in her work, for all of her experience in the  last 6 months. What???!! 6 months, no degree and professing to be skilled? Interesting…

Their offer as a company was simply, they would to about 3- 4 press releases a month for my company, and hope it get published. ROI? she stated that they use the AVE (advertising value equivalence) as a measure of the value generated…Then the multiply it by 3 or 5 and then profess that this is the actual value generated….

Someone slam on the BRAKES here!!! Were they still using this outdated method? Of course, YES! I then asked her about the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles, that was published in July 2010. She had no idea what I was talking about. This essentially ruled that the AVE is now outdated, and could not be used to squander clients’ budgets.

I then asked about their social media offerings, since they claimed to be a cutting edge agency. She stated that they had fantastic offers but outsourced all of it. Wait, what?? Why don’t I just deal with them directly then, I asked…now she was getting rather pissed at my direct questions.

All in all this is the modus operandi of many ‘agencies’, who employ much cheap staff who have little, if any experience, in any industry, and allocate them manage huge corporate budgets. They further have little  or no education, or maybe some short course from ABC or some other School of Advertising, and now profess to be seasoned and skilled, and even qualified to manage the sizable budgets.

I then got back to the CEO, and detailed him, on the exact offering and the “ROI” as they called it, and provided him a copy of the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles. This lead to us becoming a preferred consultant to the same Group, as we were willing to be transparent as well as up to date with use of leading technology innovations, and of course social media.


Lesson: Be honest, open and transparent. Let you client be your priority, not your bottom line.