Lessons in PR: Always Do Your Homework!

99% of PR is the behind the scenes. It’s doing your homework and being prepared for whatever might come up. 1% of PR is the glamorous 15 minutes of “fame”. It’s when your client is speaking at a press conference or the client is talking about their book on TV. Early on in my career, I found out this the hard way. I was new to the game, and super excited about doing my job. So when a TV station called me up at the last second and said, “One of our interviewees called at the last second and canceled. They got sick. They got food poisoning. Can you send your client out to talk about his new book?”, I was like, “Absolutely!” Now, the good news is, it went totally great. Nothing bad happened. The people who called in were fantastic. The host was nice. There were no bumps. So what did I do wrong? Everything! There is no way I should have just picked up that show at the last second. There are an enormous amount of things that can go wrong in that scenario. The host could have been a complete jerk, and I would have been caught off guard because there was no preparation. My client could have freaked out and said something stupid because I had not taken the time to prep for the show. Since it was a call-in type show, both the host and my client could have been bombarded with questions they could not answer. The list of what could have gone wrong just goes on and on. What should I have done? There should have been research on the show, there should have been research on the host of the show, negotiations over what could and couldn’t be asked. All of these things should have been done before the show was held. But it wasn’t. That was a big mistake. Some I know have not been so lucky in the same scenario. Luckily I came out smelling like a rose, but I could have come out smelling like a big cow pie. When I reported to my boss, I was excited. “Guess what I just did!” She was like, “That’s fantastic, Diane. Now in the future…..” Luckily my boss at the time was a veteran PR who understood the game. Instead of kicking me to the curb she saw my willingness and enthusiasm as an asset and took the time to train me in the art of media handling. If you do not have the advantage of having a trained PR on your team or of having a PR company on retainer then you, as a business owner, need to know how important the behind the scenes homework truly is before you go on the air. As I have seen over the years, a well planned appearance on the air or interview with a print media publication can result in a serious boost to not only your image but your bottom line. So follow the age-old advice of your teachers and parents and “Do Your Homework!”

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