Monday, December 08, 2008

Media Savvy Column for the Puget Sound Business Journal

So check it out- my thoughts were published in the Puget Sound Business Journal- Cool Huh?
A “Media Savvy” Column Prepared Exclusively for the Puget Sound Business Journal
What NOT to Say When You Want to Hire a Publicist
by Nancy S. Juetten

Maya Angelou once said, “When people reveal themselves, pay attention.” And that is especially true when business owners make their approach to hire a publicist. Since the year is fast coming to a close and business owners are considering what they should start, stop, and keep doing in the New Year to fuel their prosperity, consider these sassy one-liners as words not to say when exploring the prospect of hiring a publicist.

“I don’t know if this company is going to make it, but I need to pick your brain right now.”

“I need the whole package from design to PR, but I don’t have any money. What can you do for me?”

Your PR team offers publicity services. Publicity is free for me, right?”

“I fired my designer because I didn’t like her work. I fired my marketing team because I felt they didn’t do as much as I wanted them to do. So, what makes me think I’ll like you any better?”

“So, the retainer you mentioned is what you’ll pay me to work on my project?”

“What can your guarantee me?”

“We have no money, but if you represent us, you will become famous.”

“I got your name a while back, and while driving just now, God told me directly to call you!"

“If you help edit my book and then sell my book--I will hire you to do the PR on the book after the book comes out."

“Oh, I didn’t realize this cost anything. I thought PR was free.”

“All I need is for you to schlep my press release to the media for me. I’ve already done the hard part.”

“Our request for proposal requires that you supply your best ideas in writing, along with a budget, so we can evaluate our options and choose the best available athlete for the job.”

These conversations take place at PR agencies all over the nation and right here in the Puget Sound region. This I know for sure because I heard from dozens of them when I posted my story query on to find out.
When you start a conversation in any of these unfortunate ways, it leaves the service provider scratching her head, laughing out loud, and inclined to run quickly in the opposite direction.
Better ways to start the conversation might be:
“Your firm has an excellent reputation, and your name comes up frequently as the go-to source for good PR advice. Can we chat briefly to learn if you are accepting new clients and find out if my business is a good fit to benefit from your counsel, action and advice?”
“Earning a winning media reputation is essential for our company, and we know don’t have the talent and time in-house to do this important job justice. I’ve visited your website and blog and am impressed with how you serve and the results you bring about for your clients. Would you take a meeting to discuss what is possible for our company with your team leading the charge?”
”Our team has a great concept, strong support, and a willingness to roll up our sleeves and do what needs to be done to earn great publicity. We are short on budget and long on initiative, drive, and commitment to do what it takes to win in the marketplace. What training, information, or services can you offer that will guide us to make progress in our quest to earn winning publicity without spending a fortune?”
No matter the size of your budget or the scope of your project, one of the best things you can do when initiating a conversation with a service provider is honor their time, their talent, and their mission to do business. Then, you can at least get to a healthy starting place to have a great conversation.

Tread lightly when asking publicists to donate their time for your cause. One PR agency owner got a call from one of the local non profits or fundraising committees in town. They asked her to donate her time and PR services for their event, even though she was already involved in volunteer work and performing a fair amount of pro bono work for things for which she has great passion. She replied in this way. “Despite the worthiness of the cause, I have to support my volunteer habit with paid assignments.”

When in doubt about what to say, remember this quip from one agency owner that sums things up pretty well. “I’ve got plenty of clients with vision. What I need are a few with cash.”
Special thanks to Sabrina Sumsion, Rosanne Gain, Rachel Sentes, Jeanne Achille, Denise McVey, Tracy Bagatelle-Black, Jackie Brook, Tom Brennan, and Susan Harrow for sharing their favorite “what not to say” one-liners for this column.
Nancy S. Juetten is a publicist, newspaper columnist, speaker, Publici-Tea™ trainer, and the author of the Media-Savvy-to-Go Publicity Toolkit that empowers business owners to get seen, heard, and celebrated in their own backyards and beyond from the impact and credibility of free publicity. Visit her DIY publicity blog at to learn more. Get in touch with Nancy at 425-641-5214 or by email at

1 comment:

Nancy Juetten said...

Hi Rachel,

Thank you for sharing this column with your readers and contributing to it. It's getting a lot of people talking ... and grinning at the same time.