Seven Reasons You Were Professionally Ghosted (And How to Avoid It)Professionally ghosted?

It’s a big problem in our industry. 

For most agency owners, being professionally ghosted is scarier than even the angriest of ghosts.

It’s worse than being turned down completely because you maintain that tiny bit of hope.

And that can be absolutely exhausting.

Two weeks ago we discussed what to do if a prospect ghosts you

Today we’re going to discuss how to avoid being professionally ghosted in the first place.  

Why You Were Professionally Ghosted

There is always a reason why you’re being ghosted. 

Sometimes it has nothing to do with you.

And…sometimes it does. 


If your client swiped left, chances are you did or didn’t do something to help them proverbially swipe right. 

Here are some of the most common reasons.


The exception to this rule is if they are not the ideal client for you.

But if that’s the case, you should have ruled them out after the first meeting and never spent time on a proposal. 

Which means, the problem still lies with you. 

Here are some red flags to look for in new business meetings to help you avoid this.

More than anything, you need to clearly lay out who your ideal client is and who they are not. 

This is one of the first things we have our agency owner clients do.

Which is why we know many of you have yet to do it. 

Go do that now.

We’ll wait …

Spook One: You Talk About Yourself

Here’s the thing: your prospective client actually cares very little about you. 

Like almost not at all.

What they do care about are their challenges and goals. 

By default, their interest in you lies solely in how you might be able to solve their problems and help them move closer to their goals.

Let me repeat that.

They care about how you can solve their problems and move them closer to their goals. 

This means they’re looking for solutions and outcomes.

The solutions you can provide and the outcomes you can help them achieve.

If you are consistently getting professionally ghosted, I can almost guarantee this is a major issue for you. 


Because it’s impossible for them to build a relationship with you when you talk about yourself all the time.

The quickest way to build intimacy with someone is to encourage them to talk about themselves. 

Remember this every time you go into a new business meeting.

This is not your time to highlight your skills, background, and amazing talents.

This is THEIR time to discuss their problems and needs.

Spook Two: You Don’t Speak to Outcomes

Your prospect cares about solving their problems and results.

That means they don’t care about your:

  • List of capabilities
  • Random PR awards
  • Certifications
  • Impressive background

Sure, those things might help encourage confidence as they make their final decision or try to sell to other people in the organization.

But they won’t care one iota until they first feel that you both understand and can solve their problems. 

Spook Three: You Focus On the Wrong Type of Result

This is both a sure-fire route to being professionally ghosted and a way to be the first expense on the chopping block when a client needs to cut. 

It normally plays out in one of two ways:

  1. You consider a metric to be the same thing as an outcome. You might measure things such as the number of media placements or website traffic. But driving website traffic or getting five million media placements isn’t an outcome. Those things are metrics.
  2. You simply don’t measure the right things. Your goals and your client’s goals aren’t aligned.

PR metrics must clearly show a direct connection to business goals.

Otherwise, you are expendable.

Spook Four: You Give It All Away

Raise your hand if this has happened to you.

You talk to a new business prospect.

It goes amazingly well.

They ask for a proposal and you go back to your office buzzing with ideas. 

You SLAVE over an exquisite proposal.

You pour all your creativity into it.

And then you send it off.

You’re proud and confident they’ll hire you after you so clearly laid out such a genius communications plan. 

You never hear back.

And why would you?

You just wrote them a plan for free.

Now they can go execute it internally or find some low-cost firm to do so.

You and I know it’s not that easy.

But they don’t know that.

And you’ve just given them all they need to move forward. 

Don’t get me wrong, most business owners aren’t conniving, ideas stealing, scoundrels.

But just like many of us here, they are entrepreneurs.

And entrepreneurs, by nature, try to figure out how to do everything themselves.

Especially when time and resources are limited.

You just gave them a plan to do that. 

If you are going to write a communications plan for someone, you need to get paid for it.

Do not give it away in the name of new business. 

This dynamic is one of the biggest mindset shifts most of our agency owner clients struggle through.

We all love to give solutions.

It’s second nature.

It’s also one of the quickest ways to lose a qualified new business prospect. 

Spook Five: You Have Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is real, for all of us.

And a client can feel it when you talk to them.

If you aren’t confident in yourself and your abilities, why would a client be?

I’ll talk more about this in a future post.

Spook Six: You Speak Greek

We live in our little PR world day in and day out.

We suffer from the curse of knowledge on many levels when it comes to communications.

It’s easy to assume clients have a certain level of understanding about things that are second nature to us.

They don’t.

Sure, some clients are more knowledgeable than others, but never make that assumption.

If you leave your prospect confused or feeling stupid because they don’t understand what you are explaining, you will be professionally ghosted.

Spook Seven: You’re a Generalist, Not a Specialist

Would you want to go to a primary care doctor for brain surgery?

No? Nor would I.

Likewise, when your agency specializes in a client, process, and/or outcome you inspire more confidence that you ARE the only logical choice for the prospect.

Gini Dietrich digs into that more here –> Why You Must Make Agency Specialization a Priority.

Never Be Professionally Ghosted Again

And the final way to avoid being professionally ghosted is to close the deal in the first new business meeting.

Don’t give them a chance to forget about you, ignore you, or get wrapped up in other things.

One of our favorite things is talking to our agency owner clients after they do this for the first time.

Gini talks a bit more about this here —> Scale your Agency Without Proposals or RFPs.

Are you ready? Let’s leave the ghosts to the cute trick-or-treaters this Halloween and stop being professionally ghosted for good.

Need help?

See if the Spin Sucks coaching program can scare the ghosts out of your new business meetings.

(You all know I’m proud of myself for that last line, right? “Scare the ghosts out of your new business meetings.” That’s genius! <pats self on back>.)

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

View all posts by Laura Petrolino