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Agency Agony Uncle

Dear Uncle Carl,

Recently we had to let a member of staff go. She was in charge of social media output from the agency, and before she left she changed all the passwords and started sending out worrying messages to clients and colleagues. Is there anything I can do to avoid this from ever happening again? Many of the staff have access to our new passwords.

You couldn’t see that one coming? Obviously not. I guess there should be an answer that talks about how you should have man-managed that person and if you had done so appropriately they may have felt like a valued member of staff working in a caring sharing kind of environment, then they wouldn’t have shafted you in the first place. But obviously they didn’t feel valued or needed, you obviously gave them too much freedom and did not ‘police’ your own media channels and monitor it closely enough.

It’s one thing your customers creating comment and feedback on you as a business, that is out of your control. But to hand your own staff ‘keys to the castle’, is just a little bit naive and now you’re paying the price. I don’t see any point in pursuing her or threatening any kind of legal action. You have to learn from it. You may have to contact a few clients yourself to explain the remarks of your errant member of staff and reassure them she is out of the picture. You will have to put new processes in place, new ways of monitoring your ‘social media’ output, but most of all you have to be aware that your social output is important, in fact crucial and has to have the buy-in from the people at the top and not dictated by people at the ‘bottom’ of your organisation. You can delegate the role but not the responsibility. You were an idiot, but I don’t need to say that as your ex-staff member has probably already done that.

Dear Uncle Carl,

We want to talk up the work we’re doing but we’re finding it really difficult to get approval from some of our clients to let us publish press releases and in some cases even put work we’ve done on our own website. How can we convince them to let us showcase our work?

I had the same problem myself. We had great clients and pulled some great results for banks, utilities and travel companies but would they let us tell anyone? Would they feck. One ploy that might work is to start with award entries, but not simply awards in your sector but in theirs. I once attended a utilities award ceremony, best sewage treatment plant etc – I kid you not. I remember it clearly, Bob Monkhouse compered it. The point being to approach your client and say ‘we want to reveal all about your campaign to show others how clever we are’, is a bit of a ‘who cares’ moment for them. But to say ’we want to enter you to win an award in your sector’, or to PR them in their press that they, their competitors and bosses read every week catches their interest.

Once you have done that and gained them some recognition in their world for being a creative, forward thinking brand, then roll out into your sector and ultimately on to your own website and in your own PR. Stroke their ego, not yours.

Dear Uncle Carl,

I am working for a client and it has been suggested that we recruit kids (in return for a small amount of money) to act as social media ambassadors for the (child-targeted) product our client is promoting. As an individual I am against this, but should principles come into the decisions?

The strategy of creating ambassadors for your product or service through WOM and recommendations is a dead cert to work, how you initiate it is the crucial point. To simply pay them is obvious and perhaps a little risky. Within your targeted ‘yoof’ audience, I am sure the savvy kids who are your prospects will see right through it and therefore the strategy could backfire as they turn away toward more authentic brands. To incentivise users to promote your product and services has been going on for years (MGM, RAF) and you see examples of that everywhere now so by all means I would aim to replicate that strategy. Ultimately, we both know that our client’s product or service should be good enough, that the customers promote them for free simply because the client delivers on their promise and delivers something relevant, unique, value for money, high quality, exciting, technologically advanced, great design, off the moment – whatever their positioning is. Great social media advocacy cannot be ‘bought’; prospects are not always as stupid as clients would like to believe. As for your principles, I have said before, a principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money (or other people their jobs it seems recently). If you take the money then crack on but don’t pretend you have principles – you don’t. If you do have principles in this area then state your concerns and offer another viable strategy.

Dear Uncle Carl,

My boss is driving me to distraction... The smell of his aftershave, the cut of his suit, his dry wit and confident smile. He can be a bastard, but I crave for his attention. He talks down at me and loves to flaunt his power and authority (adding to his attraction). I think his heavy handed treatment of me is more like the playground mentality of ‘pull her pig tails to show that you fancy her’, though... I think he is attracted to me. Should I keep my affections in check for the sake of my career? Or should I ‘flirt’ back?

Do you or have you ever worked for me!? DO NOT SCREW THE BOSS; it’s not a great career move. Unless this is truly the love of your life then it will backfire at some point. If it doesn’t work out you will look like the office bike, while the flirting Bosstard simply gets another notch on his bedpost. Oh and let’s not forget that you will have to leave but everyone will know why and you may as well type it on your CV as it will follow you around job to job.

Why not look at the guy from the outside; if he were doing this with another girl in the office, would you find these attractive qualities? The kind of qualities you want in a man? Or is it simply a bit of a ‘power crush’? Does he have a reputation for stalking the office talent? Ignore him or confront him by asking him his true intentions and put an end to it, he will either declare his undying love or move on to the latest temp/freelancer/work placement.

How stupid would you have to be to fancy your boss, flirt with him and hope it will turn in to the dream white wedding relationship, big house and babies, ending happily ever after?...Who would do that… ridiculous... never happen… could it?

Are you troubled? Don’t be. send all your questions for uncle Carl to Or, If you wish to meet with carl to talk about your business, email him on