You’ve landed your dream job working at an agency. The first few months go well. Through your hard work, you earn a spot on the account team responsible for developing the pitch to secure a new client, PRSSA Pizza. After completing your research, you and your team members offer a list of calculated recommendations for the launch of the client’s new pizza crust with a specific budget. As your team enters the building to make its pitch, you pass a rival agency account team walking out. Your account manager turns to the team and says: “I don’t care what it takes, we have to win this account.” As you begin to present your pitch, the account manager cuts in and takes over. You soon realize the account manager is over promising what your firm can deliver and makes additional recommendations, not backed by research, for a budget much lower than the team agreed upon. You know it is unrealistic that your agency will be able to deliver the results the account manager has promised, especially within the client’s budget.
PRSSA Pizza awards the account to your agency. Later that day, one of the owners of your agency stops by to congratulate the team on securing a new, high profile account and specifically congratulates you for your contribution on your very first pitch. What Would You Do?
I would begin the conversation by thanking the owner of my agency for stopping by to congratulation our team on the firm’s success. I would also thank the owner for the opportunity to be part of such a dynamic team of dedicated and impassioned professionals. I would explain to the owner what my responsibilities entailed regarding our pitch to the client, but also elaborate upon the individual achievements and accomplishments of each of my teammates in helping to secure the PRSSA Pizza account. Upon reflecting on the individual achievements of my teammates, I would also take the opportunity to explain how hard our team will continue to the work to meet and surpass the client’s expectations. I would be honest with the owner and say that I would be remiss if I did not convey to the owner that the team contributed additional insights and recommendations during our pitch to the client that we believe could help to enhance and deliver successful results, but admittedly our ambitious plans have not been supported or backed by adequate or preliminary research. I would admit that the team might have been a bit overzealous in our pitch to the client in terms of trying to do more with less. I would explain that limiting our resources with respect to working with a reduced budget could potentially impact the results in a negative way, but my concerns are difficult to prove and support without more dedicated research and allocated departmental resources. I would explain that despite my lack of confidence in achieving successful results with a limited and reduced budget, I am still willing to work and explore the option of working harder and more creatively to help satisfy the client. I would ask the owner of our firm to advise our team on the best course of action to take regarding consulting and working with the client, PRSSA Pizza, to encourage an open dialogue throughout the process, and also inform them of the potential challenges our team might encounter or experience that could impact the results. I would ask the owner to intervene when and if appropriate to do so to help encourage an environment of collaboration, partnership and professionalism. I would also ask the owner what he or she thought would be the best course of action to take with reference to approaching the client with any additional questions and concerns at this early stage, with the goal of driving a successful campaign that will meet the client’s overall objectives. I would end the conversation with the owner of the firm by reiterating my commitment to transparency and building a relationship of trust and honesty with our client, PRSSA Pizza. I would affirm my dedication and loyalty to the firm and stipulate how I will continue to lead our team with the highest standards of integrity and ethics as I approach all challenges. Finally, I would thank the owner, once again, for taking the time to congratulate members of our team and reiterate how proud I am to represent our firm. I believe this solution will adhere to the PRSA code of ethics by representing an honest, loyal and ethical approach to handling any potential conflicts that may arise throughout the process of meeting the client’s objectives, while also maintaining a standard of integrity for myself, my teammates, and the firm I will continue to stand behind.