Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lessons in PR

I don't do much straight PR work, and a recent experience reminded me why.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a message from an old friend who now works at a small PR agency. Could I write a quick case study for one of his clients?
It seemed an easy enough job to fit in, and we agreed a fair price. The client was an ICT services sort of thing (I'm being vague to protect my friend's interests, so lets call them Company X), and wanted a profile of one of its customers showing the benefits they were getting from their wonderful system. The chosen customer had agreed to talk, and was waiting for the call.
Except that over a period of several weeks, the director at the company failed to respond to my many calls and messages asking for an interview on behalf of Company X. Maybe he was very busy. So my PR bunny chum found another customer, who had apparently also indicated he was happy to talk.
This time, I got to speak to the designated director on the second call, which isn't bad going. I explain I'm working with Company X, writing a promotional case study, and keen to hear about his company, how he's using X's products, and the benefits he's seeing.
"I'm not someone you want to talk to," he says. "They've been a bloody nightmare." A brief but heartfelt description of non-working products and non-existent support followed.
I apologise and promise to pass his concerns back to the company, and ring off before I start laughing at the daftness of it all. Hell, I might not be getting paid for the job now, but at least I got a good chortle out of it.
It seems like a fairly basic lesson in PR, really. If you're involving your clients in your own marketing efforts, make sure that they are actually happy with you. PR comes a very distant second to actually delivering on your business offer to your clients. And that, I think, is why I really don't do much straight PR work.



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