Have you ever had clients who were so eager to hire you for your PR expertise…but then were too afraid to actually let you do your job?
Maybe you wrote a press release that they didn’t let you send to reporters. Or perhaps they agreed to set up social media accounts, but then shied away from actually posting anything.
When push came to shove, they weren’t willing to take chances, step in the spotlight or jump into public conversations.
I haven’t faced this problem at work, as my clients continuously interact with the media and their consumers. They enjoy building relationships and sharing their stories.
But I’m aware that a client’s fear of a PR plan is a common obstacle, and recently, I faced something similar in an unofficial capacity.
It all started when my dad jokingly asked if I could get him in the local paper. I laughed it off at the time and told him he would have to do something newsworthy first. He’s a general contractor and so unless he built a free house for a family or something, I figured no reporter would take a second glance.
But then I thought about it some more and realized my dad did in fact have a story worth telling. He is a general contractor who lives in Central Florida. However, because the recession has devastated the construction industry, he has been forced to seek work elsewhere.
Recently, he has completed projects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Jamaica. And he’s currently being pursued in Hawaii and Cancun. Now, I think that’s pretty unique. How many general contractors in Florida work in exotic locations like those? Not many… and how ironic that for my dad to hold on to his American dream, he has to leave the country.
So that’s exactly what I pitched the Florida Today business editor, and within an hour, I received a reply indicating interest in the story (I didn’t even have to follow up!)
But anyway, this post is about clients fearing PR, so let me get back to the point.
My dad was thrilled at the interview opportunity — a chance to tell his story. But every friend he told warned him against the interview. Why? No, he has nothing to hide. His friends were suspicious as to why a reporter would care about one company. What made my dad’s so special that it deserved coverage? Would the reporter try to put a different spin on the story? “All publicity is not good publicity you know…”
My dad got nervous. Long story short, I was honest with my dad about the benefits of the story. We discussed what he could realistically expect. It would not be an endorsement, but rather an objective look into how a local businessman is surviving. He would be able to show that he is experienced and adaptable enough to work in any environment. He could use the story as marketing material down the road, but it wouldn’t automatically lead to new contracts.
In the end, my dad decided to proceed. The story turned out great… an honest look into a local contractor’s situation. (The picture is definitely a little goofy however).
So what did I learn? I learned how challenging it is to tell someone who is afraid of a PR plan that it will all be perfect in the end. There might be risks involved; it’s true. But sometimes, you have to trust your instincts (and sound strategies!) and just go for it.
I’m glad my dad trusted me.
What have you done to put a client’s mind at ease? Have you ever had to part ways with a client who just wouldn’t get on board with anything? Do you have any major stories of success or failure?