The really neat thing about living in the suburbs of Boise, Idaho is that after years and years in mega-developed Southern California, I can finally say “I live in the country.” And I do, because I actually pass cows on my way to Target. And, because I have a barn. It’s not a real barn, I believe technically it is a shed, but when we moved, the kids screamed, “Oh my gosh, we have a barn” and it stuck. [Except the wanna-be-teen who rolled her eyes and groaned, “We have a barn. Why me?”]
The other neat thing about where I live is that it’s mixed residential / commercial and an art studio was just completed next door. It’s gorgeous and we were invited to the grand opening. While I was enjoying the lush grounds with the barn-loving kiddos, I noticed that from the raised terrace behind the art studio you can see over the fence to our backyard. I then noticed with shock and horror how ugly and icky the rusty rooftop of our “barn” is.
Being a good neighbor, I wanted to spiff up the “barn” so that visitors to the art studio will not be appalled when they peek over the fence and see our own family tribute to the Beverly Hillbillies. So, I placed a request on a local handyman bidding site for someone to paint the “barn” (using the fabulous Barn Red paint I bought last summer and haven’t yet had time to use).
The lowest bid was $99. That seems about right. Guy drives to my house; hauls out all his equipment; climbs the ladder; paints the roof; waits; paints a second coat; hauls his equipment back out; and drives home. The gentleman noted in his bid that it would take about an hour and that since I was supplying the paint, he would charge me for just the labor (even though he would use his equipment). Seems like a fair deal. $99 for a fresh, gorgeous Barn Red “barn” roof.
Same day – I swear this is not fiction – I found out that a local self-proclaimed (but seriously confused) social media “expert” provided a bid for PR / communications services to my potential client for $99 per month. No, that is not a typo. A social media PR campaign for $99 per month. Not hour. Not day. Not week. Per month.
The painter offered to paint my “barn” roof for the same exact amount of money that a “public relations professional” [insert snorty laugh here] offered for a month’s worth of corporate communications.
Now, unless you were raised in a barn, you see that there is a problem here. PR is not free. Most social media tools are, but having experienced people in place to implement strategies that make good use of them is not. It’s also not $99 per month!
So here is what I am going to do to help the situation, because I am a good neighbor. Next time I am asked for a professional referral for social media, I am giving out the number to the guy who offered to paint my “barn” roof for $99. To me, he’s a much safer bet and a better business person than the self-proclaimed PR pro who walked in [with a straight face] and pitched a $99 per month campaign to a national company.