I’ve started to think that when I say: “PR” it’s actually being heard as “Give me your money and… , because on a couple of occasions when I’ve been chatting to other companies and I’ve mentioned the power of PR they have given me the dirtiest look as though I’ve just insulted their other half!
Or, am I just following a trail of bad pitches presented by other PR agencies who have failed to get the message across, or, in some cases, have delivered the complete opposite to what they said they would do at the time of invoicing? Or, is my own PR worthless and insulting to others? No, that can’t be it.
Want an example? Of course you do otherwise this blog post would be rubbish! Okay, here’s an example: My agency was talking to a public-sector organisation the other day and they were saying how they have failed to research the audiences they wanted to reach and how, even after eight months of trying, they were still finding it hard to engage with their publics.
After they had made this statement my immediate response was: “have you tried public relations?” Or at least that’s what I thought I’d said. Their response and the looks on their faces would indicate that I’d just insulted the lot of them, or worse, insulted their entire families!
“PR, Jesus Christ…what a complete waste of time.” “If we wanted to waste money we would pour it out of the window.” That’s the PR version by the way.
After a few seconds I closed my mouth, placed the front two chair legs back on the floor and bravely asked them: “Is that a yes then?” This cheeky remark seemed to calm them down a little and they explained that yes they had tried it, but all they got for their monthly invoice was a piece in the local newspaper, which no one responded and that this level of activity took three months to achieve.
I didn’t want to ask them who their PR consultant was, but I did ask them what they wanted to achieve and if their objectives had been clearly communicated to their previous PR agency? They of course were adamant that it had been. I then asked them if they would really disregard PR activity in the future over one bad experience?
At this point we got talking about them, their objectives and who their publics were. After this we talked about budgets – yep, they actually told me – and we set about coming up with a workable plan.
It seems their plan was straight forward, it also seems their previous PR agency plan was correct also, I think they must have just failed to implement it after it was agreed – or something like that!
Anyway, the client’s expectations of what PR is was miles away from the truth – they actually thought PR was cheap advertising – can you believe that!