How to politely say no to a new client.

Turning down a piece of new business is not easy. Not everybody finds that comfortable. However, this is exactly what you need to do from time to time.

Just as clients do their due diligence before hiring an agency to work with, agencies need to also do their homework before agreeing to work with a brand.

For starters, you need to ask a few significant questions and even have some preliminary meetings to test the water. The purpose is to check if the fit is right and spot the early warning signals or red flags. This stage will make it easier to make a decision about whether to end the talks or to move further along with the negotiations.

Look out for indications on their ethical beliefs like social injustices, cultural diversity, climate change, and the environment. What stand does their brand take on these issues? Are these aligned with your own set of beliefs?

On the business side, you will want to know if they have a budget and what they hope to achieve with their campaign. You will want to check if they have worked with an agency before and their reputation as paymasters, for instance. Also, who your team will be liaising with on a day-to-day basis.

Sit with your core team and come up with a set of relevant questions. Then discuss it with the client team and see if they pass the test. Only then should you proceed with a working relationship. Better safe than sorry.

Hilmarie Hutchison

CEO, Matrix Public Relations