Consultants have come to prey on a panicked industry

For those of you worried about your job security, I have unearthed some comforting tales of the consultants who make brass out of bullshit in this business. And in times of recession, it seems the bold can make a packet out of the panic of others, writes Claire Beale.

First, a few tips for those eager to pick bare the bones of the client purse. You need to call yourself a media auditor/consultant and then get on an international media review where the client is decentralised, riddled with internal fiefdoms and confused about whether it wants to cut costs or improve cost-efficiency (a subtle distinction which can add months to the review process). Handled correctly this tip will guarantee that the client is so uncertain about exactly what it requires, and so nervous about making any decision at all, that it actually feels the need for two media auditing companies advising it. Then whatever advice your fellow auditor offers, posit your own seemingly logical but oddly conflicting views; again this will add to the confusion and will extend your pay days.

When the client does finally start to understand what their review is actually trying to achieve, you must whisper a few pointers -- confidentially, for their ears only -- to each of the agencies pitching. This will ensure that they all come up with similar approaches and your services will prove invaluable (though time-consuming and therefore, regrettably, costly) when it comes to inserting a fag paper between them.

If you don't fancy the messy business of auditing, then agencies seem to be equally crippled when it comes to pitching for business at the moment. Endless pitches (like the scenario above) and desperation have sent many rushing to their own pitch consultants to guide them through the minefield of trying to win business. Never mind that they've just slashed a third of their workforce, cancelled all bonuses and won't sign an expense form for more than a fiver, agencies still seem to scrape together more than a few pennies for those who claim to hold the secret of successful pitching.

Sure, pitching, like communication, is an agency's bread and butter and if you need help with that, then...well, you need help. But it seems some do. So if you can sub-edit a pitch document, make the chief executive's opening patter sound vaguely human and give a few pointers on eye-contact and grammar, then you could be on to a nice little earner.

These crutches are being leant on by agencies and clients currently involved in some of the international media reviews. Good luck to those consultants making money out of clients' inability to take their own decisions, swiftly, and agencies' lack of confidence and communication skills. But such reliance on outside advice suggests an underlying palsy in the business and one which will do nothing to foster media creativity or client innovation.

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