Photographer: Francesco Marino
Good PR is like a great kiss! Photographer: Francesco Marino

It’s appropriate that my favorite Beatles’ song is Long and Winding Road, because I have the ability to tell very long and winding stories.

It’s Friday and I have time to chat, so let’s grab a mocha and get cozy. And don’t worry: I have a point.

This week I took my teenage daughter to see the new Miley Cyrus movie The Last Song. I said “yes” without asking any questions because I assumed it was Hannah Montana 2 on the big screen (apparently, that’s not a real movie.) Cyrus is a Disney kid, what could go wrong, right?

Well, 5 minutes into the movie and Liam Hemsworth with his shirt off felt very wrong! Not only was my little angel gawking at his gorgeous muscles, I was suddenly, irrevocable, so over Zack Efron! Me! I once paid full price admission for a gaggle of girls to see High School Muiscal 3 as a cover so I could see it too! [This was well before I found Glee, by the way.]

Anyway… this handsome hunk lays a kiss on Miley Cyrus that I could not believe. I actually said “No way” out loud in the movie theater. My daughter nudged me and told me not to embarrass her. I promised to be quiet if I could cover her eyes during the kissing parts. She declined. I would have too! They did not make high school boys like that in my day!

Of course, thankfully, there was also a scruffy bad boy in the movie who had a desperate, trashy  girlfriend that was always  throwing herself on him, plus some other catty blonde that wanted to get her claws into the shirtless hunk. [Yes, the stereo types were grossly overplayed.]

The movie ends and it was better acted than I expected, but those kissing scenes, especially the last one, traumatized me. As we walk out, I suggested to my innocent babe, in the most casual of voices, that “No one at my high school kissed like that.” She zips back a “How do you know?” My P.R.M.C.M.T. (Public Relations Mom Crisis Management Training) kicked into gear and I gave her a line about “If they did kiss like that, I would have heard about it.”

The truth is, I was as devastatingly dorky in high school as my daughter is devastatingly gorgeous. She might actually get some hunky guy to make moves on her like the ones in the film. Me? I had no chance!

So I decided to make it a teachable moment. We’ve done the birds and the bees convo – she demanded an explanation after the 3rd sibling arrived (apparently, the first two went unnoticed). I offered her a fancy Starbucks drink and some drive time to listen to the dance CDs in the minivan that no one else in our house can stand. We drove around sipping cozy drinks (a mocha for me; hot cocoa for her) so I could casually bring up boys and kissing and the fact that she’s not allowed to do either until she’s 35. She laughed, which she does every time I say that, although I am not actually joking.

What was so interesting, is that my mature, level-headed daughter didn’t seem that curious or concerned about the major make-out kissing, but more so about why the bad girl kept throwing herself on the bad boy. “Self esteem,” I explained. “Some girls think that no one will want them, so they take the first guy that comes along, even if he’s a jerk.” I guess I don’t have to worry about that happening at our house, because my daughter said, “Well if she’s that stupid she deserves the guy.” Yes, snark runs in the family.

Ok, so good for me. Yay! I can pat myself on the back because she seems to be all self-esteemed up for the moment!

But, later… alone… in the shower… the whole conversation reminded me of PR. Yes, that’s what I think about when I am alone. (Really, I should get a life!)

But it all came together so perfectly. I had just read this great quote on Twitter by@KateRobinsI would rather hear, “If you can get her,” than, “You know who’s really cheap.” (via #solopr.)

I think that sentiment applies beautifully to both dating and professional services. [No, I am not about to pitch a professional dating service!]

Why would a PR person want a client who only values them because they are the cheapest PR person they could find? Our time, experience and knowledge is worth something. The amount is not written in stone, but it’s never zero, unless one is volunteering (which I do, regularly, but not for clients). I have talked about this before, but it seems to be an ongoing issue: why do some feel that PR should be free? Or bartered? Or paid via commission structure?

Just like I would never want my daughter throwing herself at some guy who only wants her because she’s easy, I would not want to throw myself at clients who only want me because I am the cheapest PR chic in town.

I am a very flexible person and I believe in win – win situations. I am not going to ignore a great client because they need me to bend a little on fees. At the same time, I would be horribly offended if I knew that a client only hired me because I was the cheapest.

I have seen this conversation pop up on Twitter and Linkedin discussions. PR people, especially solo-practitioners or miro-agencies, are struggling to keep clients as they are required to do more with less.

Now to the point. My advice would be: don’t be the easy gal/guy with a bad reputation. Hang on for the client that sees your value and knows you are worth it. Like any good relationship, there needs to be give and take, but don’t be the doormat that is taken advantage of because you are desperate. Do great work and great clients will find you.

Oh, and if your client pulls of their shirt at the beach and lays a sexy kiss on you,  slap him/her and call your attorney! Unless… never mind.

I would love to hear your thoughts on PR  & how you make a love connection with your clients.



8 thoughts on “PR & Clients: A Love Connection

  1. When visiting current and potential clients, I always play the “show me the money” scene from Jerry Maguire and immediately follow it with a montage of “you complete me” moments viewers find strewn throughout the film and set it to sappy music. Then I take off my shirt. *removes tongue from cheek*.

    Seriously, clients reach out because they want something. I reach out because I want to broaden my client base and help them get what they want. The synergies begin to manifest during the brainstorming sessions. There’s usually an “aha!” moment where we both exclaim “now why didn’t I think of that” or some variation on that them. Measurable results that feed the bottom line tend to bring them back for more shirtless philosophizing.

  2. Well said. With two young daughters and the inevitable conversations looming on the horizon, you handled it well.
    Not sure that I’d take my shirt off (not a good idea), but I prefer to choose my clients. If it’s not a good fit, I respectfully recommend another resource. Bottom line — I love my clients. The love spreads to the work I do for them. The sincerest form of flattery is their unsolicited referral to a potential client. Of course, that doesn’t work too well in the relationship analogy, but you get my point.

    1. Thank you so much, Doug. I am a great PR person: I look very calm while I am freaking out on the inside. 😉

      And yes, great point! Thanks so much for being here.

    1. You are so right Tami and I would go so far as to say good PR pros are worth the wait too. I have met many potential customers who wanted PR but just wanted to do it on the cheap. My advice to them was the same: wait until you can afford the best. Or at least someone really good.

      Take care,

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