Sunday, June 22, 2008

Love Is All You Need

James X. Mullen wrote a book published in 1995 called The Simple Art of Greatness. I read the book on Friday and truly enjoyed the stories and philosophies he shared - stories that reflect his Jesuit education and life experiences beyond the world of advertising, including competitive sailing and race car driving.

Our founder tells the story (an anecdote arguably less exciting than some of the others I could have selected) of when he was in college and how indifferent most of the other students were to the cafeteria staff. He wrote, "I treated them like queens knowing that the size of their serving was usually proportional to the generosity of my smile...The moral of the story is that the world is underloved. Make people feel special and they will do special things for you."

Mullen not only extended that philosophy to his employees in building the agency, but also offered this advice to clients: "I tell every client two secrets to getting the best out of our company: form personal relationships with the people who have hands-on responsibility for your ads; and when these people do something very well, thank them publicly, preferably in a note with copies to all the top agency executives and senior management."

Jim Mullen reminds us that client service excellence and achieving great results is a two-way street. As clients define expectations for their PR agencies, as discussed in the post How's Your Current PR Agency Doing?, it's also important that they formulate expectations for themselves to maximize the relationship. As a client, when was the last time you publicly praised your PR firm's good work or asked, "Is their anything more I could be doing for you?"

You may not need a new PR agency, the relationship could just use a little more love.


  1. You're so right, Leo - showing the agency some love can do wonders. We have a client in a particularly challenging industry whose account can be a tough one at times. However, not too long ago that client surprised her account team with a gorgeous boxed set of Cheryl's cookies for no reason at all - just to say thank you. Need I add that her account gets serviced as if it's the agency's absolute favorite? Cookies = love as far as I'm concerned. That gesture will not soon be forgotten.

  2. It shows how far a little kindness can go. I've had people tell me about things I did for them that I regarded as very small (things I didn't even remember doing), that I would later learn meant a great deal to them and they've never forgotten. It's not about the grand gesture so much as a thought acted upon. All relationships have more in common that not - this is certainly a common element. Hope your team shared those cookies!



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