The prospective client described her company’s upcoming event with great enthusiasm. Everything was all set: The venue was booked, the speakers and entertainment were on board and the guests had been invited. All she needed us to do was get media coverage of the event, which was happening the following week.
Since managing client expectations is a big part of the public relations process, I explained to her as gently as possible that, based on her description of the planned event, it would be very difficult at that point to secure any meaningful media coverage. In addition to the fact that the event was only days away -- and the media that typically would have covered it had a much longer lead time -- there were a host of other issues that would make it all but impossible to gain the media’s interest. As I ticked them off one by one, her bright smile slowly faded and her initial enthusiasm deflated before my eyes.
One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to view public relations as an afterthought -- the final step to be tacked on after a project, event or initiative is all but completed. In reality, the exact opposite is true: To achieve the best possible results, public relations counsel should have a seat at the table from the earliest planning stages. While PR professionals certainly shouldn’t “wag the dog” or dictate project elements that are beyond their purview, they can offer valuable insights and suggestions into the best way to frame or present an initiative to the public before key details are set in stone.
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