Public Relations, like life, is all about timing. The other day I was pulling my hair out, pitching and trying to secure media coverage for clients when my phone rang from a number I didn’t identify. I have this weird, immediate skepticism about numbers I don’t know combined with this uncontrollable urge to pick-up. I imagine it’s what a fish feels like when they see a lure in the water -- I know that’s a lure but I can’t help eating it!
Thankfully this was a good call - a reporter looking for a medical expert reference that would be perfect for one our clients, Dr. Phil (No, not that Dr. Phil). The problem is their deadline was yesterday. In fact, I was receiving this call because their first choice wasn’t getting back to them. I’ve no problem being second choice or being called at the last moment.
I was able to connect the reporter and my Dr. Phil within the hour and a couple of days later it was my client who was getting the press coverage and not his competition. How’s that for a swing of events - press coverage plus shutting your competition out from coverage? That’s a win in my world anyway you slice it.
So what can we learn here? The reason I was able to get Dr. Phil to respond so quickly wasn’t luck or good fortune. Quite the opposite. I had coached him from our very first meeting. It was a test of sorts for all potential clients. It’s important that before starting any PR campaign that a client understands there will be a lot of work required on their part. Public Relations is not a set-it and forget-it initiative. The public relations firm can get the media to the prom but they are only interested in dancing with the client. If the client isn’t a willing participant, the whole process breaks down.
Here’s our checklist we discuss with prospective clients before coming aboard. If any of these actions are not able to be met, then it’s not going to be a good fit for WildStory.
- Stress the importance of quick turn-around to clients
- As a client, be eager to help, this is what you’re paying for
- Understand that the window is finite, what is interesting today, may not be interesting tomorrow. Your chance at media coverage is about being opportunistic.
- Treat each media interaction as an interview or first date. Be engaging, be charming, be likable.
What’s your experience with being opportunistic or taking advantage of media contacts on a deadline? Join the discussion and leave your comments below.
Lastly, please feel free to contact us directly. You can always send us a message via our contact form or email me directly at: mgutman at wildstory dot com
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