On 01 October 2010, we celebrated the ten-year anniversary of Dr. ZitelmannPB. GmbH. Dr. Eckhardt John von Freyend and Christoph Kahl, whose companies had been my first two clients, each gave a speech, as did Helmut Knepel of Feri, a company that we have worked with for more than a decade now. The fact that many of our key accounts have worked with the company for eight, nine, or ten years is a source of particular pride to us. It goes to show that the business principle I pursued from the start has paid off. Any client relationship we enter into should be long-term. I have always turned down requests to provide just this or that one-off service or to handle this or that project for a few weeks or months, even if this meant losing an opportunity for short-term revenue. After all, our company is not about the short-term maximisation of revenue, but the joint realisation of the communication and positioning targets that clients have set for themselves. Since we know that this is hardly accomplished with isolated one-time feats – an article here, and a press interview there – we have always referred those companies that were unwilling to enter into a long-term cooperation warmly to our competitors who perhaps care more about a “quick buck” than the long-term objectives of their clients. This has helped us become the unrivalled market leader in communication advisory for real estate companies, even though there have been any number of copycat outfits.
Another principle is just as important to me: We have always refused to work for shady outfits, no matter how much they may be willing to pay. We have no desire to help profiteers of questionable integrity who defraud their investors by advising them on their press and PR work. Sad to say, there have always been and continue to be PR agencies who seem to be less squeamish. They seem to be oblivious to the image transfer from the client onto them. Inversely, our good image is not least attributable to the fine reputation of clients such as DWS, Commerz Real, Jamestown, Feri, Ernst & Young Real Estate, and similar companies whom we advise – and the fact that none of our clients offer dubious fund schemes.
Spending ten years or more with a client can sometimes feel like being married. You quit passing tender notes back and forth after a while. There are good times along with the bad times. And yes, there are moments, when breaking up seems like the best thing to do. What ultimately counts, though, is that you stay together. That is true for matrimony as much as for your relationship with a client.
The secret of our company’s success has always been the particularly strict requirements in staff recruitment. Over the years, we developed our own aptitude test. The process is as strenuous for us as it is for the applicants, because the overwhelming majority of them fail the test. In addition to the aptitude test method developed in-house, we adopted parts of the so-called LSAT test that US law schools use to screen applicants.