PR is a stressful industry, but some moments are clearly more “sweat worthy” than others. It’s these moments, though, that really keep PR pros on their feet and teach invaluable lessons.
After crowd sourcing some PR colleagues, here are some of the most sweat-worthy PR moments folks have dealt with and tips for overcoming them:
Late, late, late. While pitching a prospective client in suburban Atlanta, we got lost on the way to the office and were about a half-hour late to meet with C-level execs. The busy prospects glared at us through the meeting and cut us off early to show their displeasure. (Needless to say, we didn’t win the business.) If you’re unfamiliar with an area, consider doing a “dry-run,” even including driving to the prospect’s office. Even the best GPS isn’t infallible!
Conference line conundrum. For a top-tier reporter interview with one of my clients, I circulated our conference line details without double checking with the rest of my team to confirm the line’s availability. Six other team members ended up dialing in accidentally for a totally unrelated call, some even scolding me for not double checking! Always check to make sure the conference line is free.
Promoting the “awkward” product. While pitching an “adult diaper” client, I was asked – in mixed company – my impressions of having “tried it out myself.” Oh, the discomfort! If you find yourself in a similar position, I recommend you take a deep breath and just go with it, despite the embarrassment; just keep it clinical and professional!
The forgotten presentation. At a previous agency we were a finalist for a large account. We were even told that we were the clear favorites after the first round. The final presentation was at the company’s HQ in the midafternoon so our team spent the morning and afternoon rehearsing, casually having lunch and then heading to the office only to realize we forgot our presentation! We tried going along with it as if we’d always intended to present this way, but that didn’t fly. Since then, I’ve always made sure we have backup and more backup (sending via email, on extra thumb drives, saving in the cloud).
The speechless spokesperson. After coordinating a call with a reporter and a client, briefing the client as usual, and confirming journalist questions, I got on the conference line and the client spokesperson went mute. He wasn’t able to answer any of the questions. It was clear the reporter was getting upset. Luckily, I was familiar enough with the issues to jump in with answers, and where I wasn’t I steered things in another direction. The lesson is don’t take anything for granted, and for phoners, make a “cheat sheet.”
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