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The top five client excuses for not paying PR agencies

10th September 2015


So we're almost entering the last quarter of 2015 and I'm betting, like me, that many of you will be wondering when your clients are going to pay you. For example, of my nine accounts, three have just assured me that payment is “being processed'“. Great! Of course, the fact that this payment is for December 2014 is of no consequence …

Clients, God love 'em, are our bread and butter. Without them, we cannot function. Yet they seem not to understand that, in order for us to function – as in have the time to ensure their corporate news release finds its way to somewhere slightly more high-level than MissMalini – they do, occasionally, need to pay us.

Now I could go into a proper rant about this but, quite honestly, it wouldn't fit into 400 words. So instead I'm going to list my top five client excuses for not paying. Now these are not made up, the emails are sat in my 'management' folder and have been for some time. I take them out sometimes and cry... no actually I rant, but I think that's healthier. Below are my top five – one of which was sent to me twice in a year by the same client who must have some kind of folder called ‘Excuses to stall payment for a month'. I wish I could name and shame, but unlike certain journalists, I have standards.

  1. “So sorry for the delay. We moved office last month and things have been a bit hectic" – sent six months after payment was due.
  2. "I think we paid you. I'll check with the girl who managed your account. She actually left but I'm sure someone else manages it now. I'll find out and get back to you asap." – this was sent twice in one year and it still cuts deep.
  3. "Well – you did promise that we would have one opinion piece which was not achieved. I'm aware that you over-achieved on features, interviews and response but I'm not happy."
  4. "Could you send me the invoice again. So sorry. Actually I'm on holiday for a month from tomorrow but there's really no one else this can go to." – two words: Down. Tools.
  5. "Apologies, but we are going to have to reduce our retainer. We'd like to back-date this if possible." – my personal favourite

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