Saturday, April 23, 2011

The No Instant Gratification Zone

OK, one of the challenges in public relations is getting clients to understand that this isn't the fast food drive thru where instant gratification is satiated with a greasy bag of fries. So many of our clients suffer from instant-gratification-itis. We literally will start a campaign and three weeks later, the client is distressed. Where are the reviews? Why am I not on TV yet? What is your plan? I've decided I need a PR education program in place to quell these ever-arising and very unrealistic expectations. Let me put this into perspective for those of you who have never worked in the media. Here is the day in the life ...

Editor gets to desk. Editor turns on computer. Email pops up in the thousands! Editor must sift through hundreds of pitches but at the same time, Editor either works on a daily, weekly or monthly and has deadlines. Editor must edit and get feature stories for the issue at-hand out the door to production. Editor is maybe behind schedule that day or a problem arises with the current edition. Editor's top priority is to deal with the current edition that if it doesn't go out the door on time, advertisers and sponsors will go besierk. Editor receives the mail -- and three dozen boxes of books and products arrive to be opened and sorted. Editor doesn't have time, and because of the economy doesn't have an assistant either. Production has another problem and off the editor goes. Emails go unanswered. Packages go unopened. And now let's add to this, a request to review (an entire) a book that is perhaps 300-pages long. Maybe editor is interested, but the book doesn't fit in the current issue or the publication is 3-6 months out. What does this mean? If a review is OK-ed, the editor must take time to read, write a review, and the review may not actually appear in print for 3-6 months.

Now all the while, our clients are sending us notes, "What results have you got for me? How am I spending my money? What are you doing?" And these questions will come at us even after the client may very clearly see exactly what we're doing. And while we persistently and aggressively pursue the harried media person just described above, client may grow dis-satisfied and impatient. Can this become demoralizing? Yes, it can. It can become a thankless circle of frustration. Client wants results faster, better and more of them; and staff person is pitching media and pushing for results; and media is often growing annoyed -- especially if their intention is to run the piece but give them time to get it done. So as you can see ... public relation is not for the faint of heart. But I will tell you this. When you finally get the win -- the review in print and the rise in sales -- it feels darned great.

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