Say it quietly, but one or two of my clients are neither very talented nor very hard-working. But boy, do they get paid well and expect me to big them up.
When I hear them prattling on about how clever they are, I want to remind them: “Don’t confuse genius with a bull market.”
Or, as I learned this week from the CFO of the new Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield: “NAVs are a lazy metric for lazy people.”
This is particularly pertinent for one of my listed clients, who barely does a deal, saying haughtily that the market is overpriced. Yet, his year-end NAV goes up thanks to market forces and he picks up a big bonus. I always worry that he might come in for criticism at the AGM or a journalist might question his worth, but so far he’s got off scot-free. That doesn’t stop him questioning my worth, of course, but that is the PR’s lot in life.
“Henrietta, we need to sit down and talk about doing something for [insert name of lazy client],” says my colleague, Charlotte.
“OK, but he’s not doing anything, and if he’s not doing anything, we can’t do anything,” I protest.
“Let’s get him to sponsor a conference and then he will get a speaking slot and we will be kept busy for a while.”
“If we do that, he’ll be spending money from his marketing budget and won’t increase our fee.”
“Well, what then?”
“It’s got to be time for some S&M,” I respond. “Social media. We’ll set him up on Twitter.”