Twice in recent times, I’ve had to ask to be put in touch with an agency’s former client. In both cases, it was protracted and difficult, with a real reluctance on the part of the PR to help me out.
I was offered current clients as a replacement – no good, as it specifically had to be the former one. There was a suggestion that, rather than me talking directly to the client’s press contact, the PR could act as a go-between – no good, because time was of the essence. There were slow replies and obstruction at every turn.
I kinda get it. Just as editorial contacts are a precious commodity I boast, so client contacts past and present are for you. You want to maintain correspondence with the journalist, not just pass him/her on. You want to maximise this chance for your current clients.
Trouble is, I’m now annoyed with both PRs and, as such, slightly less likely to come to them and use their clients in future – because, yes, I can be petty and childish like that, as much as I try not to be!
The trick in these situations, I think, is to ask succinctly if there’s any room for your current clients – personally, I’ll never mind you doing that – and otherwise just to help me. That leads to the opposite scenario: the one in which I am more likely to come to you and use your clients in future.