I was flying back from my brother's bachelor party in Las Vegas (alas, the details of the trip will need to remain in Vegas), picked up a copy of the NY Post, and saw an article – Wiseguy Way – about the book Mob Rules: What the Mafia Can Teach the Legitimate Businessman.
Written by an ex-mobster, the book explains how mob rules can be applied to legitmate businesses. I enjoyed the article, and it occurred to me that some of the rules cited in the review could also apply to the PR agency world. Here are some examples, the text in italics is from the article:
Don’t forget a name
Everyone knows a memory for names is a valuable business tool. Mobsters excel at this, says Ferrante — thanks to mnemonics. Basically, this is the practice of nicknaming someone so you’ll remember who they are.
The takeaway here is that you need to value your client and media contacts – confusing them or forgetting their names is a recipe for disaster. I am not so sure about inventing nicknames, sure this is done but can backfire, especially if the names aren't flattering.
Don’t close yourself off
Ferrante looks back on his prison days… Although he was in a lockup where cell doors could be left open, he often kept his shut so he could get more reading and writing done. “This guy came up to me and said, ‘Lou, you can’t do that,’” he says. So he tried leaving it open…
The lesson for managers: Keep an open door, so as to a) stay connected to what’s going on; b) keep in good standing with your people; and c) stimulate creativity.
This is good general advice for managers; also, it is important to be available for the media if you want to maximize coverage.
Don’t let things fester
In “Let’s Meet in the Back for a Sit-Down: Mediating Disputes and the Art of Compromise,” Ferrante advises dealing with intercompany squabbles as the mob does — quickly and fairly.“Squash a beef before it gets out of hand,” he writes, “and be sure to offer fair and honest advice every time.”
Yes, it is a good thing to avoid conflict, with clients and media too of course.
Don’t shortchange your customers
Ferrante talks about the difference between mobsters and corporations — and the mobsters come out looking like the good guys.
“I would feel more secure sitting down with another mob guy and shaking on something than I would with a businessman,” he says. “On the street, your name is all you have. If you screw somebody, you’re out of business.”
True enough, agencies need to deliver excellent serivce and be responsive to client concerns.