How do you solve a problem like Maria?

When the nuns in The Sound of Music sang this classic song, we all listened to it and thought of various quirky people around us who reminded us of Maria. She brought about a sense of innocence and also of a girl who seemed to be in the wrong place, stuck in some dreary abbey.

Lately, the song seems to play in the background of my mind whenever I speak to a dreaded client. It’s not because they embodied Maria’s characteristics, it’s the opposite. This song to me represents all that could be but did not materialize because the clients are such frustrating people. They engaged us to help run the PR element of a large event which will finally take place this week. I can safely say this is one of the most painful projects I have ever run in all my years of being in PR and also when I was in-house, I have never come across such people.

They are stubborn, insistent, arrogant, and disrespectful – to clarify, not many clients are like this but this one takes the cake for being totally disrespectful to their consultants. What irks me the most is they do not follow-up on basic things which are the ingredients required to run a successful large event. And they refuse to listen to counsel, when they fuck things up, they just shrug and simply say, well shit happens. How can you learn from simply shrugging off problems?

Let me give you an example…they cannot even manage to secure one media centre at the event site. A media centre is used as a base where members of the media can work, get all the on-site materials and information and at times use the room to conduct small group or one-on-one interviews. Apparently, adding such an essential room where you can interact with the media and help them gather their information is far too expensive. Let’s get this straight – this is for an event that attracts c-suite movers and shakers, internationally renowned speakers and an international audience. The interview room that they have now rotates on a daily basis and materials are in a separate room – very nice.

In beginning, we went all the way to help them. Pull together materials, secure quality interviews, get foreign media and get them listings for their event. But whenever we secure something, like confirm interviews for their renowned spokespersons with leading regional publications, they manage to fuck it up somehow. And fuck in a big way too, by promising others do exclusives, declining interview requests from foreign media and just fucking up by not giving us access to said spokespeople so we can arrange for interviews or just get information from them to do pitch angles. Yes, you should be on top of all your interviews but you should never renege on a confirmation.

I don’t mind going all the way for clients if they play ball or at least meet us halfway so that the result means more quality coverage and a big win all around. However, despite counseling and even when the big bosses step in, nothing happens. In fact, things either get worse, they completely fail and then they do something that I completely detest. Call my more sympathetic colleague to lament on the sad state of their lives. Oh please! Grow up; stop fucking up and your lives won’t be that bad.

Anyways this week is the event. Wish us luck, we need all we acn get. My colleagues and I have seen the materials they prepared and w are prepared for the absolute worst. This will be a nightmare. I kid you not. And thank God, you are not in my grumpy shoes.

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Ever prodded a sleeping dragon, only to have it whip up and bite you in the ass? Well, neither have I. But I advocate that you should try everything...once ;P


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