Dealing With PR Clients and Last Minute Requests

makes_eat_timeEleventh Hour Requests: Turn it down or turn it around?

Ah the constant considerations and mental multi-tasking that make up the ever-evolving job description of the public relations professional. We’re the unofficial keeper of the company brand. The assessor of image and public sentiment. But we also keep up with the daily duties that must be made systematic; the tasks that without our thinking must become second nature, commonplace, routine.

Long-range and short range pitching and planning.  Searching for angles, securing opportunities for spokespersons, leveraging excitement around campaigns/seasons/holidays. The list goes on. Yet all of these tasks fit neatly into a package that clients and the public will eventually see as a finished, polished product.

But how do we get there? And how do we handle those eleventh hour requests from would-be clients who think it’s so easy to get there?

How many times have you been approached by an amazing potential client with an amazing story or an amazing product for which you could create an amazing pitch except this would-be client gave you absolutely no time to do your job? As in, one week to pull off a campaign? Or better yet two days? [Yes, this has happened to me.]

While this may fly at a large agency that has minions working around the clock, you may be dealing with 2-3 people max when you are working with a smaller firm. As PRos, we have to ask for, no, we have to demand time. And this may mean explaining that hey, when you work with a smaller firm you’re not dealing with layers of bureaucracy, or dozens of junior staff members.  You’re dealing with a greater attention to detail, a higher level of customer service, and of course a lower overhead.

Don’t be ashamed to turn down a project because there isn’t enough time to turn it around. Believe it or not, just because you are a public relations pro, doesn’t make you a magician. As with anything else, it takes time to do a thorough job and produce professional results. Clients expect nothing less than that from you. Demand that same level of professionalism from your clients.

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