Now PR PEOPLE and ASSISTANT EXTRADIONAIRES and those that hire them, get out your pen and paper and let’s evaluate the topic at hand. If you have more than 5 checkmarks at the end of this article, then you have some restructuring to do. If not, well you at least need to have a conversation about ways to make things work more smoothly.
- Reach out to a media entity on your behalf and not know what the entity does.
This is self-explanatory. Make sure the client has a vested interest. Know what their television program, blog, magazine, radio show or event is about and what they do and how they do it. Whatever they have available online, familiarize yourself with it thoroughly to make sure it aligns with your brand as well as to be able to answer potential questions or not make verbal missteps like :
PR: “She can’t wait for the photo shoot!”
Media: “Umm we are just a YouTube channel. While I have over a million subscribers my studio is in the corner of my extra bedroom with a ring light and Mac Book pro and all my interviews are via Podcast where we use a simple headshot that you provide.”
See what I mean. Get as many basics as you can from their web presence and then cross your fingers.
- Send materials or respond to inquiries late.
Geez Louise. This is huge. I tell people all the time that if your “team” or “assistant” isn’t making you better then what is the point. You were taking 30 days to respond to email before them and now they take 21 days. Should they be rewarded for this? No. You keep referencing them as the “go-to” and “send all” but then someone has to keep reaching out to you to see where something is. People who are actually on time with their obligations have timelines, deadlines and things to do. So if it takes 2 weeks in between each email, or four weeks for you to respond to a website inquiry or worse it took you months to reply and all you have as an intro is “Sorry for the delay…” well simply put- build a new team.
Next, don’t turn in materials late and expect a pat on the back. I have actually changed the level of a feature based on how they met obligations. Big feature to regular feature just like that. If you have been given instructions on how and when to respond, then do your best to honor them or let them know in advance that you can’t which they can only respect if done in advance. Don’t make excuses your new greeting. Make things happen instead.
- Take anything more than 48 hours to read/respond to an email (not counting holidays or without a message explaining the delay like:
“Hey we got your message but the entireeeee team in locked up in the county jail right now after a rough night in Vegas… “
- Throw you (or you them) under the bus or leave you stranded.
Well. It happens. A lot. The client blames the assistant. The assistant blames the client. Or worse no one blames anyone and no one bothers to explain. Yes, someone besides Jesus needs to take the wheel and someone has to be accountable. Own your mess. But in owning that mess do not expect anyone to want to make s’mores and sing campfire songs in agreement. I had someone constantly tell me how much of a mess they were and implied that would be cool with it and deal with it on a regular basis. Over and over again they kept saying it. And I was losing more interest the most they said it until I finally made it clear that I was not on the messy team with them and would not rework my whole process around their messiness. I still don’t think they got it.
You are having an event and have solicited media sponsors. But when they inquire you don’t have set details. You seem to be feeling your way around. They offer to toss your logo up on their website but two weeks later you have to inquire about where it is. The assistant blames someone else but ensures you it will be up immediately. But then it’s not. A week later you inquire with the BOSS directly. The boss blames the assistant. It will be up today. It’s not. You shoot another email and no one responds but it shows up later that day.
When one is blaming the other and neither one seems to be on the same page its can be exhausting being the mediator in a situation that you didn’t even want to be in the first place. And it’s even more painful when you reach out for the next opportunity and the person you tossed under the left rear tire is still on the payroll. That is an indication that either you were the real problem or you have no love for your business, brand, or reputation by enabling them to repeatedly do the same thing. If I show up for the third year after year one and two have been a complete fail and they are still listed as the contact, I will just tap out. Work all of that out BEFORE contacting or putting out a call for the media, sponsors, collaborators and the like. Please.
- Reach out to a media entity via social media without EVER visiting their website or researching the proper way to contact someone.
In other words, not everyone does business via Facebook inbox or Twitter reply. You need to know where you should reach out. If they have 5 pages dedicated to contacts, then you might want to read that before tweeting with emoji’s and telling them how much you love their show.
- Send something incomplete or wrong altogether a total of 8 times.
Now 8 is just a random number. All I am saying is how many times does someone have to ask for A, you tell them to send A (or Z because honestly sometimes it’s you) they send A but A is wrong. Now A was put together by you when they first joined the camp so by default this is your fault but they are looking incompetent but it doesn’t contact that oneeeeeeee item that was requested. Or maybe they send B -because your assistant has a nail appointment and they half read your email and plucked out an email and then headed to get that refill before their favorite nail tech Kim goes to lunch. All I am saying is somebody messed up. Over and Over again.
- Not let you know that you are causing them to fail.
What does she mean I caused them to fail? Well just that. You do not give them access to what they need; you don’t reply promptly to them in order for them to in turn do the same. Maybe Oprah’s staff needed some answers to a few more questions after your interview. You sent them back right at the deadline only for your assistant or PR to find them full of grammar and punctuation errors in a format that could only be called “3rd Grade Summer School”. Now they are late because they had to proof, correct, follow-up to see what you meant on line 54, reformat and send off to the contact- LATE.
Oh wait, let’s not forget how you don’t listen or feel prompted by your assistants to do list. In other words, they can’t get you to do a thing. They tell you they need it back but you are still slowing dragging it. You have missed or rescheduled 3 photoshoots with the radio shows photographer simply because you wouldn’t delegate and then listen to the very person who is there to make sure you get it done or be able to get it done for you. But you won’t let them be great. Nope. You are the Mayor of Epic Failure Ville. The Queen of the Kingdom of ItAintGonnaHappenToday. Stop it. Let them help you help you. So you can all be great. And on time.
But they don’t even bother telling you. Because you aren’t going to listen to that either.
I have had assistants reply to me and actually sound like they have tapped out. They reply, “I gave Jimmy the report you sent three weeks ago.” And nothing else. They don’t even bother giving another excuse. They had passed it on. They have reminded everyone. They are over it. But they are your only contact. Yeah there’s that.
- Not remember a thing.
There is nothing like having to remind a PR person or assistant what you talked about last. Because they don’t know. Remember. Or care. Not sure which one. But they are lost. You have had a whole dialogue with them and they don’t even remember or check their notes before responding with a completely whole other conversation.
- The Wrangler
Or maybe they let you…
They let you reach out 3 months after a feature asking when it will be featured. Because you didn’t have that thing mentioned called “vested interest” in it and didn’t bother to read any emails or even follow them on Social Media and see the release.
They let you miss your scheduled phone interview.
Your speech notes.
I mean they couldn’t handle a herd of 5 baby chicks much less all the things on your plate.
They let you say yes to an opportunity that you had no interest in. Please let your team know what goes in the “No Way” and “Yes Indeed” piles. There is nothing sadder than a happy gung-ho PR person and a dead, “I just can’t with these people” client. It creates an “So why did you say yes?” environment where someone feels like they are dragging you into a bullfight you were just looking at from the street. The PR person is out there dancing in all red from head to toe and got that Bull all ready to charge and then shoves you out in front. And there you go looking all wide eyed, bewildered and knocked over into the bleacher by the horns of a wild bull. Ouch. That looks like it hurt.
- Stop responding or never respond at all.
It speaks for itself. You are professionally representing (or being represented) someone who has placed you in the role as their “lead”. And you just don’t reply. Or you stop replying mid-way. Maybe the boss wouldn’t provide you the answers you needed to you just decided to sit back and watch the fallout. Or you are the boss and you didn’t follow-up and there are no checkpoints in place for either of you to catch what wasn’t done. That’s scary. You could run into said person at a huge event and they want nothing to do with your proposal because of how you handled much smaller tasks. Respond. Even if it’s to say that you still aren’t ready. An explanation is better than nothing any day.
And last but not least….
- Request the Spotlight and then Duck the shine.
And now I can actually use myself in the example. Nothing hurts my little feelings like someone reaching out to me for a feature. Me agreeing to said feature. Me prepping interview questions for said feature, getting them off, them confirming receipt and then. Gone. Nothing. No response. No follow-up. No feedback. No excuse. Or there is an excuse and they are sending and then DOUBLE POOF. Nothing. NOT.A. THING. It’s rude. It’s a timewaster. And youuuuuuuu asked for it! And unless you have some strange fetish for setting your own self up for failure, this is not okay. At all.
Bonus: This just came up. Please do not advise your assistant or PR person to blatantly lie for you especially without going through a checklist to make sure everything matches the lie being told. For instance, if they are going to say you are “out sick” then make sure your Social Media pages don’t show you laying on a beach, teaching a class and accepting an award.
Well I hope you enjoyed my somewhat comedic take on PR and assistant hi-jinks. Have you had any bad experiences with “front people”? Tell us about it in the comments.
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