Are you familiar with the scene from Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise’s character is battling with his client and he moans and begs, ‘Help me help you!’ The desperation and genuine desire is expertly acted by Mr. Cruise.
That scene pretty much sums up my life as a public relations professional. I spend most of my days living and breathing some form of a call to action – moving, pushing, prodding, enticing, eliciting, and engaging executives to move forward with their communications plans. Most do, because I am very persuasive, but some do not. And I wonder about that…
Often, it is because no matter how clear I am; no matter how well planned or articulate I am; no matter how much data I have; sometimes CEOs and Entrepreneurs are going to do what they want to do – despite my good advice and vast experience. And so then I practice being quiet and like a worried mama bird, I just start preparing for the day that they crash and burn out of the nest and need me to come to the mend. All along bemoaning the fact that they just would not listen.
But if they did listen, if you listened, what would your PR team tell you if they could?
- Your ideas are random (I was going to say stupid, but at my house, that is a bad word.) The ideas are not bad in so much as they do not make sense in terms of resources, profitability, market, or competition. If your team is always agreeing with you, please start hiring more people – specifically the ones who can and will say no to you.
- You are random. You shift and jerk and lunge and dive in so many directions, no one can follow you, let alone be inspired by you. Slow down. Learn to plan. Help people to see the big picture by showing them the way. Oh, you only want big picture people on your team? Well, be prepared for lots of ideas and zero execution.
- You are not patient. You want results and you want them now. This attitude is often combined with an attitude that also feels comfortable withholding resources, limiting spending, and has a narrow view of what is worth investing in.
- Your media efforts will be a waste of time. No one likes to say this, but there are some clients who insist – yes, I read the Linkedin and Facebook groups for professionals, so I know this is true – that every business decision and option is a press release or news conference waiting to happen. PR professionals know what journalists want to see. They know what has value to the media. They know which stories have a good chance of earning placement.
- You are selfish. You expect total devotion and professionalism from your staff and any consultant that you work with, but you withhold the same from them, going off with other consultants like a squirrel chasing shinny objects, or ignoring the needs of your team. You do not share information, you do not stick to your agreements, and you do not support the creative environment.
- You are embarrassing yourself. You do any or – gasp – all of the above and you think it makes you smart or effective or innovative, but you really are just making an arse out of yourself to your staff and your clients. They talk behind your back and they do not support you as a leader. You are decked out in emperors clothes and you think you look hot.
- You are fired. Clients need to be fired much more often than they are. Their diva attitudes get away from them and they start treating highly trained professionals like the hired help. Many professionals – out of fear of confrontation or financial need – will keep a client far longer than is beneficial for both parties. They don’t cut the cord, they just let things slip until it is apparent to everyone that the relationship and work is over.
You probably will not ever hear any of the above phrases from your PR professional, or any consultant or employee for that matter. I would never say it – I am too nice and too respectful. However, I might say:
- That is an interesting idea, let’s circle back to that one when we have our next steps finalized.
- If we can focus our efforts, our results will increase.
- Our strategy will take time to plan and properly execute.
- Let’s add media relations tactics after we have a solid strategy and story in place.
- Branding, PR and media relations is earned and it will take a considerable level of commitment for you to lead your company forward.
- We need to take time to assess whether or not our efforts are resonating with our clients.
- I feel like your resources would be better used in focusing on key areas, so perhaps we should put PR on the back burner for now.
I speak with many CEOs, small business owners, and Entrepreneurs and they all want wonderful, magical marketing advice. Often, my best advice is to simply stop what you are doing and to listen not only to what your team says, but what they do not say. And then start asking a lot of questions. Help them help you!
I would love to help you. ~ Jules