DKC Internal Memo Demands Better Media Hits… Or Else

An anonymous tipster sent us an internal memo today written by DKC PR president Sean Cassidy for his staffers. In it, he takes issue with the types of media hits the firm is generating for its clients, scolds the staff for not taking advantage of office hours with firm execs, and warns that he will take drastic action if folks don’t shape up.

“Remember, I see what everyone produces.¬† So…. if performance in these areas does not improve, I will make specific recommendations to the management team regarding changes to the staff,” the memo reads. (We have it in full after the jump.)

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Cassidy ends the memo on a high note.

“Have a nice weekend.”

I have the benefit of reviewing all of the publicity that emanates from DKC.

I am very dissatisfied with the 1) volume and 2) substance of the feature publicity in top-tier media being generated on behalf of our clients.     There should be no items and perhaps one roundup (if it is exceptional and original) in your five best monthly clips.

Some people only submit items.

We are not a typical communications firm; so I expect to significantly outperform the industry standard all the time while constantly striving for excellence.

Scott Miranda, Jeff Klein, Bruce Bobbins and I have made ourselves available for office hours.  Among this group are extremely accomplished, experienced PR executives who can help you.   The attendance has been modest to abysmal.

Given the aforementioned paltry performance in the features category, I find this lack of participation in the office hours counterintuitive and infuriating.

I expect to see a dramatic improvement in both feature output and attendance at staff development sessions such as office hours.

Remember, I see what everyone produces.¬† So…. if performance in these areas does not improve, I will make specific recommendations to the management team regarding changes to the staff.

Have a nice weekend.

Sean F. Cassidy

We asked Cassidy about the firm’s standards for media coverage. Of course, he says they’re high, which contributes to the firm’s success, evidenced in its “growth,” “low client attrition,” and expansion.

We also asked whether the assessment of the firm’s media coverage takes into account the newsworthiness of the pitches. We often hear that outsize client expectation is one of the stressors of a PR job.

“As far as newsworthiness is concerned, a great PR company knows how to create a dialogue and therefore create a credible news hook,” he told us in an email. “That’s the difference between being a valuable strategic communications partner and a transmitter of prepackaged information from the client.”

Certainly, one would expect any boss to crack the whip if work isn’t meeting the company standards. And everyone knows that if they don’t produce good work, they’ll be auf’d.

But, finally, we asked if an email such as this one, with threats to fire staffers, has ever improved performance.

“My commitment to maintaining our very high standards and pushing for even stronger results on behalf of our clients will never stop. And given that our staff turnover is about as low as it gets in this industry and employee tenure is very lengthy (the current management team has an average tenure of 12 years) this seems to be a philosophy our team is comfortable with,” he wrote.

“Reiterating an expectation of excellence – no matter how¬†it is¬†communicated – ultimately benefits the organization;¬†and, as I expected,¬†I have seen a positive outcome.”

What do you think of this memo? Is this the right way to “reiterate an expectation of excellence”?