Advertising vs. P.R. and client’s outrageous expectations

By Joy A. Kennelly

Seeing as people always complain about publicists, I thought turn-about was fair play and that you might enjoy hearing some of the things that make us publicists laugh out loud when we hear the sheer stupidity of client’s clueless responses.

(All names have been removed to protect the innocent.)

I have a group of about 8-10 publicists I regularly speak to and consult with on various projects. We all support and provide feedback to each other to help us achieve the best results possible for our clients.

As a result, when we have a client that causes problems, we share our horror stories too to help put things in perspective.

Here’s a list my colleague whipped out in less than 10 minutes of experiences she’s had recently with clueless clients when I was sharing about one of mine:

  1. A client called me today perplexed that she wasn’t in Life & Style magazine yet. It had been a whole one week since she started her PR contract. LOL!!!
  2. The clients who don’t know their markets or demographics—chances are Vogue isn’t going to cover a $99 necklace.
  3. “Have you heard of DailyCandy?” Yes, I have. Over and over. I can’t MAKE an editor feature your product, they either like or they don’t! It doesn’t mean I’m not doing my job, people! TOTALLY! GIVE ME A BREAK!
  4. “Oh, I can’t afford a monthly retainer”—funny, these are from the same people who will shell about tens of thousands for an advertisement in a magazine or some D-listers gift lounge. I guess they don’t realize they could pay a publicist a fraction of that cost and get more respected editorial results.
  5. My favorite is the client who asks for tons of services to be done asap, even though they are late in paying for that month…again. Think again, buddy!
  6. How about the potential client who wanted six months of services for $1000 total, half up front and half at the end? Hey, big spender! LOL

I don’t know why my profession is so disrespected, but I’ve decided to share the other side in hopes that the people who don’t get it, may. I’m tired of having to manage unrealistic expectations and may need to start teaching a course on what to expect when you hire a publicist. What they can and will do, and how to manage your expectations to help the process along.

If you have huge expectations, then go somewhere else and pay $5,000 – $10,000 for the type results you’re demanding. I’m happy to provide a list of PR firms that will gladly take your fees and have someone with less experience work on your account. Otherwise, allow the process to work and stop complaining.

Another publicist friend called me to commensurate and informed me that although he had got his client’s jewelry on one of the top A-listers in the industry which was seen in all the top magazines, his client wasn’t happy because the actresses fingers were fat since she was pregnant.

Is that ridiculous or what? That’s what we’re talking about. If you want publicity results and we give them to you, understand they have a value regardless of how you feel about it. If you had to pay to have your ad placed in the same publications that we as publicists get you into “for free” then you might reconsider the way you treat us. And the time it takes to have the placement.

I, for one, am fed up with people who sign up for a three month contract and then because they really can’t afford my services get mad when everything we discussed isn’t accomplished within the first month of working together. In what other industry are months of work crammed into one with successful results?

Makes me want to extend my minimum requirement to six months just to have some breathing room and for the client to understand P.R. takes time. If you want immediate results, buy advertising.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Only advertising allows you to dictate where you will be seen in a magazine and when. That’s why you pay a premium for that service. However, it’s been proven that editorial coverage is nine times more effective than advertising hands down.

You are at the whim of the editors who must decide whether or not they have room to cover you, or if you fit within their editorial focus for that month, but you will gain much more credibility in the long run than advertising.

Oh, here’s the other funny thing someone demanded I do recently, which I refused. Understand, there are publicists who lie regularly, but I’m not one of them. As a result, when it was suggested that I lie and say Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom were planning to drop by an event just to get media there when they knew it wasn’t true, or that their guest list didn’t include any A-listers, I refused.

That demand was a red flag immediately that this person has no scruples, no integrity and really isn’t someone I want to continue doing business with. The final nail in the coffin was the total disrespect and disregard for what I had accomplished and provided that of course followed.

I don’t work with people like that. If you’re not happy, then let’s stop working together. Why prolong the agony? Just don’t expect favors or other benefits when we do stop working together. Once it’s over, it’s over. Good luck and good bye.

The only thing I have is my integrity and my reputation. Fortunately for me, even when a client gets upset and feels like I didn’t do right by them, no matter what, months later they’re always interested in working together again or keeping a relationship with me. Never fails.

Maybe it takes that long for them to realize that maybe what I had to say meant something and I was telling the truth. I don’t know. All I do know is that life is too short to waste any more. Plus, when I release the bad, I always make room for something bigger and better.

Just to have to trust that things have happened for a reason and move forward. It’s just nice to know I’m not alone in this regard. My fellow publicists and I always share a good laugh over some of the lunacy this business brings which helps.

I wish you all much success in whatever you’re looking to accomplish. Just don’t waste my time or yours by complaining when you don’t see results in magazines in one month’s time. It’s just not going to happen. There’s a three month lead time on magazines alone!

So, for all you who want immediate results, save all us publicists time and energy and just buy advertising. That’s what you understand, that’s what you’re comfortable with, and that’s where you belong. Stick with what you know. You’ll be much happier.

Trust me. I am.


2 Responses

  1. This is some great information. I have no idea how the whole PR thing works. So um…what you’re saying is that you can’t get my biz into Daily Candy or you won’t??? 😉

  2. For you dahling, anything…:)

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