What’s wrong with PR? What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.

By Toni Antonetti, PR Chicago

Reprinted with permission from PR Chicago Blog, Click here for this post and related articles.

Great post the other day from PR pro Gini Dietrich on her blog, Spin Sucks, about some serious perception issues between PR agencies and clients. She references a recent rant in the NYT blog from a restaurant owner who hired and fired not one, but two PR firms. He got the publicity he obviously craved, and on the NYT blog, no less. Too bad he was whining about PR firms and not waxing eloquent about wining and dining at his eatery.

But it’s clear from Spin Sucks and the numerous blog comments that followed that many clients think that PR is the “golden ticket” to instant success, to recognition, to worldwide acclaim. In fact, I got a call the other day from a prospect telling me that an agency told him that it would cost $10k to get him on Oprah. Hell, I told him, go for it! And for $10k I want to be on Oprah, too.

So many PR firms are entranced by a shiny new client and the attached dollar signs that they ignore the red flags raised by prospects with unreasonable expectations, no clear plan and zero focus. Add in some nutty off-strategy tactics, infinitesimal budgets and the need for off-the-charts ROI and you have a recipe for disaster. And I’m not defending PR agencies, either. Between over-promising and under-delivering, or under-promising and over-delivering, the PR agency and the client are both bound to feel shorted at one time or another.

The problem, to paraphrase a line from Cool Hand Luke, is a failure to communicate. What PR people need, what each PR agency needs, is a concise, clear explanation of what PR can do, given time, commitment on the part of the agency AND the client and most important, conversation every step of the way. A manifesto, if you will. Often we’re too busy trying to get a firm in the door to check and see if we’re a good match for the client. Yes, sometimes we want to date the bad boy, even though we know it can’t end well.

One of the best recent posts I’ve found on the new client “pre-nup” subject is from Lori Taylor of Rev Media Marketing on Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert blog. Lots of sit-downs and paperwork, which we hate to do, but necessary to make sure that the PR agency and the client are on the same page. Do something like this, and you may live happily ever after.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *