TRUST: hard to win, but lost in an instant

Earlier today I walked past the HQ of an education and training organisation that I used to do freelance PR and marketing work for. I haven't done any work for them for several years, but it reminded me of an unpleasant incident that I experienced six years ago.

At the time, the organisation were hosting a major event at a local university and they commissioned me to do the media and PR work for them. Although I am a keen amateur photographer, I wanted to ensure that the press photos were really top notch, so I paid out of my own pocket for a professional photographer to go to the event with me. This was on the agreement that they worked exclusively through my own marketing company as a sub-contractor.

I should mention that the photographer was young, female, and very attractive. She had recently given up a teaching job to run her own photography business and I wanted to help her get started. So I paid her upfront for the work, and I covered all her costs incurred.

On arriving at the event, I took her to meet the CEO of the company, someone I had known for a long time. To my horror, she immediately whipped out her own private business card and forced it into his hand. She then proceeded to play seductively with her long blonde hair, gave him a sexy smile, and said: "Here's my card Steve. Next time you need any work doing, come direct to me!!"

She obviously thought she had done something really clever, hoping that for future PR contracts, she could bypass me altogether and work directly with my client. 

As you can imagine, I NEVER asked her to do photography work for me ever again. Since then I have found a different photographer who I can trust not to try to steal my clients. She may have nicked one of my clients, but she lost the potential for lots more work in the future. A hollow victory indeed. 

Years later I heard that her company had failed and she had gone back into teaching. I'm pleased she failed. There is no room in business for underhand and sneaky tactics, especially when they are used against the very people that are trying to help you.

Moral of this story: if you want to build up a long-term and loyal customer-client relationship, then TRUST is by far the most important thing you need to gain. It can take many years to build up, but it can be lost in an instant.