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Never Burn a Bridge: A Client Came Back After a 3-Year Hiatus

It’s cliche to say, but you should never burn a bridge.

About three years ago, I had a long-term client leave me because it hired in-house talent to do what we were providing: marketing and PR services. I don’t want to name the client, but it is a prominent software reseller in the accounting space. This kind of thing happens regularly in our business, so I wasn’t surprised when the client originally called to tell me. It wasn’t a reflection of our work; rather, it was an effort by management who thought it would be more efficient to have someone at their company.

Efficient? Could be? Less expensive for them? No way, once you figure in salary, benefits and the resources it takes to train a new hire. But, I have to live with these kinds of decisions.

The point is I didn’t burn my bridge by talking badly about the client or taking any other action because of the lost business. I absorbed it, assessed what we did right, what could be improved, and where we made mistakes … then moved on, eventually replacing the client with another one. Again, this is a symptom of the PR agency business.

Nonetheless, I was surprised when, out of the blue, I got an email from the current marketing director who wanted to talk about working with me. The company had gone through the full-time PR person, then a contract person, only to come up short on results.

As of April 1, we are now once again working with them – and I hope it’s another long relationship.

I know it’s a human trait to want to lash out. Sites like Glassdoor and its Company Reviews exist for this very reason. Just do a simple search for any major company and you’re likely to get a spectrum of reviews, from very good to very bad.

It’s not in my nature to badmouth former clients – what’s in it for me? Nothing. It’s much better to pull up my big boy shorts and learn from the experience.

It seemed to pay off!


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