Monday, July 24, 2006

On Being a Cheerleader

Early in my career, Ben Rosen, a founder of Sevin Rosen Funds, told me that I was essentially a cheerleader for my clients. Because I was young and wanted to feel more important than I perceived a cheerleader to be, I was quite taken aback. But, it turns out, he was right.

Of course, at our firm, we work to add more value in client relationships than merely as cheerleaders (as a matter of fact, on the road to "creating the cheer" we often need to ask a lot of hard questions). But, hopefully, we always work with companies in whom we believe and about whom we can speak positively.

Recently, we had a client ask us to attend its strategic offsite. It was hugely valuable. Of course, understanding a company at its core is a benefit to our efforts. In addition, it added a sense of "esprit de corp" that will prove tremendously beneficial to our client. That sense of commitment and belonging can be gained through great chemistry as well by attending offsites; the key is that working with a client is like a marriage and we all need to like and respect each other. While I know there are other communications firms that feel differently, we try to avoid relationships with clients where we are perceived as simply as a "vendor". If we are going to work with a company to find the best way to communicate its uniqueness and leadership and represent that view to the outside world, we hope to be part of the essential team. And if that enables us to get out our pom poms on our clients' behalf, then it's a good thing.


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