How to Handle a Client that Won’t Take Your Counsel

My friend Ken and I were chatting via instant messenger while working last night. An excerpt of our conversation follows:

Ken Mueller

Ken Mueller and his mom in a recent photo

Sent at 8:00 PM on Tuesday
Marijean: so serious question
when you have a client who WILL NOT DO what you recommend¬†and it’s obvious
do you:
a) dump the client
b) make sure no one knows they are your client
c) let people know they’re a client and let the cards fall where they may
(maybe this is a blog post?)
Ken: hold on
Marijean: HI MOM!
Ken: ha
Sent at 8:04 PM on Tuesday

Our conversation was delayed while Ken talked to his mom on the phone and I forged ahead turning my question into this blog post. I’m curious what other PR people and social media professionals think about this. What do you do when it’s really evident that a client you’re working with is NOT taking your counsel? It’s embarrassing, right? Clients can’t change overnight, obviously and sometimes behavior or cultural changes must happen before client communications are up to snuff . . . but while they’re getting up to speed, what’s your approach?

Thanks in advance for the input — and everybody, say “Hi!” to Ken’s mom!




  • SocialMediaEmma says:

    When you find out, would you please let me know? It’s so frustrating. I’ve had clients pay for the minimum training, ignore what I’ve suggested they do, then complain social media does not work. This really hurts my credibility with other new users and it hacks me off! Another WTF post!

  • NickGilham says:

    Marijean, it’s a great question and I haven’t heard much in the way of good advice on this subject. My friend, Matt Homann, recently posted a framework for giving feedback to clients. I’m hoping this might be helpful in this type of situation:

  • ginidietrich says:

    I think it depends on the client. I always use the analogy that you don’t go to a restaurant and tell the chef how to cook your food. You go there because the chef knows what he or she is doing. If you have a good relationship with the client, I’d have that conversation with them. If he/she is past listening to you about anything, it’s time to fire them.

    P.S. The photo cracks me up! Was kmueller62 18 there?

  • KenMueller says:

    @ginidietrich That was college graduation. I wish I still looked like that.

  • ginidietrich says:

    @KenMueller I was close! You were 22!