Five things I wish PR clients would stop doing
First and foremost, let me say that a large percentage of the time, I love my clients.
As an outsourced agency, they are my lifeblood. Without them, I can’t pay my bills, and many experts will agree that not paying your bills is a bad thing. So, before I go off on another tirade, let me just be clear that I’m very, very pro-client.
However, there are certain behaviors of theirs that I’d like to curb.
So, without another long introduction that no one reads because they just want to skip to the bullet points, here are five things I wished clients would stop doing.
1. Trying to get me to use an @yourcompany.com email address
“Great! Excited to get started! We’ll get you all set up with a company email for you to use...”
Ummm…what? Oh, I get it! You want it to look like I work for you and am part of the company! Guess what? I don’t and I’m not.
I’m an outsourced PR firm, and one of the reasons you are hiring me is because of my media contacts. Well, my media contacts (to a degree) know me as Micah Warren from Large Media. As it is, it’s not always easy to make a connection with a journalist and secure coverage. I don’t need to make that process any more difficult.
Oh, and did you want to pay my health insurance? You said you wanted me to look like part of the company. You pay my health insurance and match 401K and benefits and all that? I’ll use your company email address.
Plus, what about when I contact a journalist about multiple clients? See how this gets dicey?
2. Telling me you want to start small and we’ll all grow together
Guess what never happens? That’s right. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had companies approach me and tell me they wanted to start out with a small budget and then as they grow, they’ll pay us more and more.
Once you charge a company X amount, that’s the price they think they pay for a lifetime. It doesn’t matter if they grow to be Coca-Cola, that’s what they think you’re worth. You’ve set the market rate and they don’t want to pay a penny more. Yes, retainers are supposed to grow, but not for the companies that talk like this from the beginning.
I also don’t like the idea that a public relations campaign is the only thing stopping you from growing. You could be mismanaging eight other different aspects of your business. I could do a killer job getting you press, but you’re still not growing because Debbie is stealing from the warehouse or Ken isn’t following up on warm sales leads.
3. Wanting a discount because another PR agency burned you
“I don’t want to pay a lot right now because I just paid big money to another agency and they didn’t do anything.”
I’ll sit here and wait while you explain how that has anything to do with me and my company. I’m sorry about that. But, I’m not discounting my pricing because you made a poor decision or were sold a bill of goods by another firm.
Go to a restaurant tonight and tell them you’d like to pay half price because you ate out last night at a place where the food was awful and the service was worse than the food. Please take a picture of the look on the server or manager’s face and email it to me.
4. Not telling me when you have news
This might sound like something that doesn’t happen often, and maybe it’s not an everyday occurrence. But, there have been so many times in my career where a client is telling me about something that happened a couple weeks ago and it’s something we should have been promoting heavily to the media. When were you going to tell me?!
“So…you came out with a drone that only kills ISIS members in large numbers?”
“Yep, a month ago. Been selling them like crazy.”
Please keep your PR firm posted! Even if it’s not newsworthy! I’ll be the judge of whether or not we can get anything out of it. But, if you don’t tell me everything happening with your company I can’t help you.
5. Paying when you want, on your own terms
This is just a part of being a smaller PR agency, but it can be very irritating.
I am always upfront about my payment terms. In a retainer situation, the first month is always up front, and after that I can be more flexible. But, I’ve had situations years ago when I was much younger and got started working for people who stiffed me in some form or another.
So, when I send an invoice that is due upon receipt, it – GASP! – actually means that. Send a payment to me when you get this.
I’ve followed up with clients a week or so later (I’m usually a very patient person...to a fault) and ask about their invoice and they have said “Oh, we cut checks at the end of the month.” Not only did you never once tell me that, I never agreed to it.
When your Visa bill says payment is due on the 10th, do you reach out to them and tell them you process payments at the end of the month?
Anything else to add to this list? Let's hear it!
A co-founder of Large Media, Inc., Micah Warren has been a public relations strategist for more than 15 years. A published writer with an incredible track record of media placements, Micah has gotten his clients in USA Today, Fox Business Network, Bloomberg TV, Inc.com, CNBC.com, The Daily Caller, The NY Times, The NY Post, Esquire, Maxim magazine, ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” ESPN.com , Askmen.com, GQ, BBC, Reuters and many other newspapers, television shows, radio networks, websites and trade publications.
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