The Current Trend of Ghosting PR Agencies

This blog post originally appeared on the CooperKatz & Company, Inc. website.

By Kathleen Reynolds, director of client services

I get it. I really do. Choosing an agency is like a romance. Sometimes, it’s a whirlwind “love at first sight” that feels like a match made in heaven. Other times, it’s a slow courtship. Or even a broken engagement that leaves you afraid to love again. You may realize you’re just not ready to commit. That’s ok. Take all the time you need. Or move ahead with abandon, with the one you’ve chosen. But you know what? “Dump” the other agencies instead of “ghosting” us, as in – let us know you’re going another direction vs. going totally MIA for all eternity. We actually prefer it. And we deserve it.

Doing so is a hard call to make or email to write (just don’t do it via Post-It note, a la “Sex and the City”). Though honestly, even Berger’s infamous kiss-off to Carrie is more dignified than going radio silent and leaving me to wonder 1) Are you ok? 2) Should I keep calling back? 3) Was it you or was it me? I eventually get the point – you’re “just not that into” us. But by then I’ve invested more time. I’ve held back resources I could be using elsewhere. And I don’t like being left hanging.

Do I prefer the call in which you tell me I’m “the one?” Of course! I love those; I scream and giggle and run around to tell everyone in the office. I usually put out an announcement sharing our betrothal…err…partnership!

But the truth is, this is a part of agency life and I know how to move on. I know you can’t always pick us (even if I think you should). But agencies deserve to know one way or another. We put our heart into meeting with you and sharing ideas. We sweated to win you over. We probably even spent more on you than we should have. Most times, we don’t get anything in return. We’re ok with that. But we do this with the implicit hope and trust that you will respect us enough to keep us posted on how things are going, even if the news isn’t in our favor, or you aren’t ready to commit just yet.

There’s an art to dumping or being dumped well, of course. The agency should take the news gracefully, delving gently into your feedback without pushing you too far. And we should respect your decision no matter what. So I’m sorry for the times an agency has gone “crazy ex” on you. Showing up in your voicemail or your inbox uninvited, or not taking the news well if you had the courage to deliver it. When it’s me, I try to understand where the disconnect was, but there’s no reason to rake anyone over the coals – especially if we have hopes of rekindling the romance down the road.

So I get it. I’ve ghosted before myself. I’m not proud of it. But your RFP isn’t a Tinder date gone wrong. With a bad first date, you can regale your friends over drinks. But this is business and we should all be mature enough to give or receive bad news. So let us have it!

Has your agency ever been ghosted? Or have you ever ghosted an agency? Tell us your experience and the outcome of the situation in the comments below or tweet us at @LandisComm.

You can also tweet to Kathleen, the author of this post, at @KRey729 and let her know what you think of the ghosting trend.

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7 Comments

  1. Gus Nodal Reply

    Great post, Kathleen. I completely agree with everything you covered. To add: I think a big factor contributing to this behavior is people’s inability to reject and/or accept rejection. A “no” answer can sometimes open a window to a plethora of questions, and in most cases, leads the rejecter to sugar coat the real reason s/he is not interested. Yes, we usually want all the answers, but sometimes it’s best to gracefully accept a simple “no” and just move on…

  2. Gregory Bortkiewicz Reply

    It’s important to make a good impression, because you never know when you’ll cross paths with a particular person or business again in the future. Ghosting can leave a sour taste! Thanks for the great blog.

  3. Sean Dowdall Reply

    Well, Halloween is coming up, but I’ve been ghosted throughout the year! I think people do get very busy, but a simple and quick answer back from the ghost would save everyone a lot of time.

  4. Ashley Boarman Reply

    Kathleen – thank you for your contribution to our blog. It’s hard to believe that companies still ghost in this day and age of connectivity. Never burn bridges is one of the great first rules of business 101.

  5. David Landis Reply

    Kathleen – great blog post. And yes, this is happening to us all the time. We get a direct call or email from a prospect, we meet them, we develop a proposal, we present to them in person – and then, nothing. It’s just like Mom taught us: treat other people the way you would like to be treated. Thanks for the insights. Cheers, David

  6. Brianne Miller Reply

    I’ve been ghosted in new business more times than I care to recall…and I do not forget those names :).

  7. Sarah Mason Reply

    This is great commentary on a trend that few people care to admit is happening. Thanks for letting us repost your blog, Kathleen!