ethics

Does skullduggery ever pay dividends in business?

So you believe the rival company that won the business over you shouldn’t have done for some reason… in fact you believe you have evidence they told a porkie to get the deal. So the question is should you tip off the client about why you believe they shouldn’t have trusted your rival? bigstock_Code_Of_Ethics_8490301

After all, surely it will make you look good? That client might even decide not to deal with your rival after all … thanking you for coming forward with such helpful information … perhaps coming to back to you …

Everyone in any business has at some time felt a stab of anger that a rival managed to get the business of a client when you didn’t. Maybe you are a PR company who feels you always gain business honestly and feel aggrieved when you hear a rival offered a client something you know won’t be possible. It is so tempting isn’t it to tell that client some home truths about your rival and put the record straight…

But is indulging in such behaviour – trying to smear a rival’s reputation ever really worth it? As people who’ve been in the cut-throught media business for over 25 years here’s our tips…

* Stuff happens in business. Business isn’t always fair and the right person doesn’t always win the job. Whether you’re a freelance writer, author, work in PR or indeed in any other business, accept ‘unfairness’ happens.

* Most importantly remember that people often do end up ‘shooting the messenger’. That saying might be an old one but wrong as it might be, often we end up disliking people who’ve given us some unpleasant information. So when you tell a client that he has gone with the wrong guy after all, he might end up hating you for telling him that.

* No-one likes a snitch. Going to someone with gossip – even if you really do mean it with the best intentions feeling that person ‘should know’ – makes you look bad. It makes you look petty and spiteful and no-one likes that in someone they do business with.

* It makes you look desperate and grasping. If you have the time to snitch, are you not doing so well in business? It’s true that people who are genuinely very busy don’t have time to sweat the small stuff.

* Remember you are not privvy to all the correspondence between a rival and a client so you don’t know if in fact the rival was honest after all. For example, a client might say they will only deal with a London marketing company – so you didn’t win the job because you were not in the Capital – and you then see they have gone with someone based in Manchester. Your imagination can run riot – perhaps that rival company bigged up their tiny office in London when really it is barely manned… In fact, the client might have decided to go with the PR company in Manchester despite where it was based because they liked them the best.

Finally, Skullduggery in business isn’t ethical, it isn’t nice and even if you convince yourself you are doing it for genuine reasons, it always makes you feel bad and if you have any conscience, guilty. If you’re the sort of person who believes in Karma, it doesn’t make for good Karma… Unfortunately, we all come across unfairness in the business world and the best way forward is to rise above it – concentrate on your own business rather than bothering about rivals – and let it go.

Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website Featureworld.co.uk, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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