Midterm elections prove perils of overpromising

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Tomorrow’s midterm elections are likely to be a sobering lesson on the dangers of not meeting  promises.  The scale and depth of disillusionment with Obama’s administration, a mere 24 months after his triumphant election, is astonishing – even to those who have witnessed past presidents experience a similar fall from grace.

Obama promised much, and the nation bought into those promises. Now that those promises remain decisively unfulfilled, things have turned ugly.

While we as PR consultants may have little in common with the leader of the free world, there are lessons that we can learn from his unenviable predicament.  Following a successful pitch, agencies are often welcomed as messiahs by client companies.  Clients pin their hopes on our energy, our track record and our promises. We have a duty to make sure those promises are realistic.  We also have a duty to temper expectations when they are not in line with what we know to be achievable.

All too often in our industry, there is a disconnect between what clients think  PR will deliver for their business, and what is actually deliverable in the timescale the client expects.  PR is highly effective, but it is not a panacea.  It often takes several months of graft to generate useful results.  And, in most cases, it can’t single-handedly salvage a business which does not have enough custom.

As Obama is belatedly discovering, the more wildly dramatic the expectations, the deeper the disappointment if those expectations are not met.