Nightmare and Dream PR Clients

June 7, 2010  | By Catherine Seeds

Ever since I started my career in public relations, friends and family members will often ask me, “Wouldn’t it be neat to do PR for XYZ company or person?”  Heck, I even choose the path of PR when I was a sophomore in college because of a dream job – PR for Sea World.

As PR representatives, we are tasked with working with all sorts of clients.  It is our job to make the best out of every situation, to deal with the good as well as the bad, and to never back away from a challenge. But there is also that fine line of whether or not to keep your own morals and beliefs on the “DL” at the risk of offending or losing your job or client.  During my eight-year tenure at Ketner Group, we’ve only had to officially “let go” of two clients.  The first was due to a lack of budget coming our way and because their competitor had actually offered to hire us and pay us more. Not exactly a bad situation. The second, well, let’s just say that we flat out kicked these guys to the curb due to very unprofessional, uncalled for behavior and treatment toward the agency team  — AKA a nightmare client.

So, who would you or wouldn’t you add to your client roster?  Of course, this is all in fun and jest, but nonetheless, very interesting to think about. So goes my list of the top three “nightmare” companies or persons that I would never do PR for, and my list of top three “dream” companies and persons that I would jump at the chance to represent. Drum roll, please!


Nightmare Li
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[Edit: This post was actually in the queue for a bit before it was posted, so obviously representing BP right now would be just about the worst of the worst PR nightmares, ’nuff said.  And on that note, if you haven’t checked out the hilarious @BPGlobalPR account (satirical, of course), do it  now!]
•  The Dallas Cowboys – I can remember the day that Tom Landry was fired as head coach of the Cowboys, and how much I despised Jerry Jones for his disregard of the institution that was Coach Landry.  Since then, the Cowboys have certainly gone through its ups and downs in the press as a team and organization – drug and alcohol-related issues, show-boating “celebrity” players, and spoiled quarterbacks whose names start with T and end in Y.  I’ve always been and will always be a Cowboy fan, but as long as Jerry Jones is leading the charge – I wouldn’t even consider being a janitor for this organization, much less their PR representative.
•    Anyone in the Lohan (as in Lindsay) family – This family is just a day in and day out train wreck.   Between Lindsay’s constant drug and alcohol abuse, and Michael and Dina Lohan’s constant and idiotic bickering in the press – your only job as their publicist would be to constantly put out fires.  No way.  I’d rather represent Kanye West before I signed on to represent this crazy family.
•   Any tobacco company – Obvious choice, but I think now that I have children and I family of my own, working in the PR department for any tobacco company would never be an option for me.  First of all, I think smoking is a disgusting habit.  Secondly, we all know the lasting effects that it can have on the body.  My wonderful, beautiful grandmother is currently struggling with Emphysema due to her 30+ years of being a smoker.  On principle, I just wouldn’t be able to represent an industry that is responsible for the manufacturing of products that do nothing but harm.

Dream List

•    Disney – I think Disney could possibly be a wonderful, dare I say, magical company to do PR for. The movies/TV shows, the parks, the merchandise, heck – Disney even has its own vacation club.  This company is everywhere, and customers are happy to pay the big bucks to be a part of it – every PR person’s dream situation. Who wouldn’t want to work for a huge, money-making classic?
•   The Roberts – Right now, the Roberts are on fire.  I’m talking about Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Pattison. In PR, you want to work with fresh-faced newcomers (Pattison) that possibly have the “it” factor to succeed, as well as those who have been around the block a time or two (Downey Jr.), but always have a way of coming out on top because of their pure, God-given talent.  Or maybe I’m just confusing this list with my “Celebrity Crush” list?
•    The History Channel – I’ve always been a history buff.  I always tell people that other than PR, I would love to have been a history professor.  Over the past few years, I’ve become a huge fan of the History Channel due to its wide variety of historical programs and documentaries.  I’m currently engrossed in the mini-series, “America: The Story of Us.”   Laugh at me if you like – but that’s my (hi)story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Please share with us your nightmare and dream clients.  Even anonymously – it’s OK, we won’t tell!