Consultants generally work hard to keep clients, not fire them. But, every once in a while, a situation arises that forces the consultant to scuttle his client. Reasons for firing a client are different for each consultant. I know some that will fire a client for ideological differences. Others will leave a campaign if they grow to dislike the candidate personally. But, the most common reason for firing a client is that the he refuses to take the advice he’s paying for and wants to run a campaign that has little or no chance of winning. In short—he just doesn’t trust you enough to take your advice.
But, I know what you’re thinking…the candidate trusted you enough to hire you initially, so why won’t he take your advice so he can win or, at least be competitive? Doesn’t he know that you know what you’re talking about? The truth is that some candidates, especially the first time candidates, just can’t let go of control. Many are successful in their individual fields and think that they can be just as successful at their political venture if the manage it properly. This is the beginning of problems for you, because they will never trust anyone to steer the campaign.
These “successful” candidates micromanage the campaign to death, literally. This leaves you with a tough decision. Do you stay knowing that the campaign is sinking quickly and has little chance of being competitive, or do you leave to pursue another campaign with a better shot at winning? Sticking with a client that will run a laughable race may destroy your image and hurt your chances of getting clients in the future. So, while the money may be easy, the effect could be destructive.
Once you decide to jump, you may consider putting out a press release noting that you are no longer associated with the campaign. This helps disassociate your name and image from a campaign with major problems. The release isn’t meant to harm the candidate or his campaign, but rather to help you preserve your business and brand. Perhaps including the name of the candidate’s new team is a way to soften the blow to the campaign. However you decide to announce your departure, it’s best to let everyone know that the campaign that is headed in the wrong direction is no longer under your control.
Tyler Harber is Vice President and Director of the Political Division for Wilson Research Strategies, a leading public opinion research and political consulting firm for Republicans. You can follow Harber at www.w-r-s.com or on Twitter @tharber.