I was going to write on another topic this week, but I feel compelled to write on the subject above, since my client and dear friend, Marty Fischer, COO of National Lampoon Comedy House, recently passed away. Marty loved to surround himself with strong-minded women and loved that I had strong (and usually correct) opinions when it came to his business. I worked with Marty for two years, both on the NY Comedy Expo and National Lampoon Comedy House (NLCH), and often spoke with him 3-5 times a day (more than my parents). We were three weeks away from launching the NLCH club in NYC.
It was only two days earlier that I had dinner with Marty after meeting at the NYC club location to go over last minute details (painting the walls, comedians’ headshots, Lampoon posters, table covers, light boxes, promotions, everything…). Needless to say, everything now is at a standstill – and I’m missing my friend.
So, before I get too emotional, let’s get to the business side of this for a few minutes; how do you deal with the death of a client?
· Make sure you have all the appropriate information from the partners (or lawyers or family) to settle any projects you were working on; if necessary, get hold of and read the contracts
· Write and send out his/her obit to all necessary media outlets
· Create a memorial/tribute party for all friends and family to gather and relate stories to one another; make it easy on yourself and create an evite
· Get access to your clients email and phone addresses to send invitation
· Partner with a charity that the client loved and suggest donations to be made in his/her name
· Be sure to submit any external bills (subcontractors you may have worked with) to whomever is paying the final bills; they still need to be paid for their work, as do you; if necessary, file a lien or lawsuit (small claims is up to $5,000 in NY) to get paid
· Do the best you can to control any possible damage to the client’s reputation; having been associated with someone who had "frienemies" could damage your reputation, so you need to protect yourself as well
· Let your voicemail answer as many calls as possible and return them when you have a moment to breathe. It’s important not to be overwhelmed by your loss (of a friend and client) and not to stress about the loss of business or needing to find new business immediately
· Do breathe – de-stress anyway you possibly can, so you can prioritize and focus on the important things that need to get done
· If necessary, alert your other clients to your situation so they probably give you a little more time to accomplish their needs
So far, that’s where I’m at. If anyone else out there has had a similar experience, I’d love to hear from you and how you’ve handled the situation. It’s not easy by any means.
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Jocelyn Brandeis is an accomplished and award-winning communications professional with more than 15 years experience in the entertainment, consumer, new media, B2B, Hispanic, and nonprofit industries. She is responsible for securing interviews and media placement and creating full PR campaigns. Since co-founding JBLH Communications, the client roster has included: National Lampoon Comedy House, Doggy Tug, Mandinez.com, Play Clay Factory, The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, and The Child Center of NY.