Public relations is a stressful industry
, but some moments are clearly more “sweat worthy” than others. It’s these moments, though, that really keep PR pros on their feet and teach invaluable lessons.
After chatting with colleagues, I came up with some of the most sweat-worthy PR moments folks have dealt with, along with tips for overcoming them:
Late, late, late.
While pitching a prospective client in suburban Atlanta, we got lost on the way to the office and were about a half-hour late to meet with C-level execs. The busy prospects glared at us through the meeting and cut us off early to show their displeasure. (Needless to say, we didn’t win the business.) If you’re unfamiliar with an area, consider doing a “dry-run,” including driving to the prospect’s office. Even the best GPS isn’t infallible.
Conference line conundrum.
For a top-tier reporter interview with one of my clients, I circulated our conference line details without double-checking with the rest of my team to confirm the line’s availability. Six other team members ended up dialing in accidentally for a totally unrelated call, some even scolding me for not double-checking. Always check to make sure the conference line is free.
Promoting the “awkward” product.
While pitching an “adult diaper” client, I was asked—in mixed company—my impressions of having “tried it out myself.” Oh, the discomfort! If you find yourself in a similar position, I recommend you take a deep breath and just go with it, despite the embarrassment; just keep it clinical and professional.
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The forgotten presentation.
When I worked at a previous agency, we were a finalist for a large account. We were even told that we were the clear favorites after the first round. The final presentation was to be mid-afternoon at the company’s HQ, so our team spent the morning and afternoon rehearsing, casually having lunch, and then heading to the office only to realize we had forgotten
our presentation. We tried going with it, as though we’d always intended to present this way, but that didn’t fly. Since then, I’ve always made sure we have backup and more backup (sending via email, on extra thumb drives, saving in the cloud).
The speechless spokesperson.
After coordinating a call with a reporter and a client, briefing the client as usual and confirming journalists’ questions, I got on the conference line and the client spokesperson went mute. He wasn’t able to answer any questions. It was clear the reporter was getting upset. Luckily, I was familiar enough with the issues to jump in with answers, and on those I wasn’t, I steered things in another direction. The lesson is this: Don’t take anything for granted, and for phoners, make a “cheat sheet.”
What’s your most sweat-worthy PR moment? Please share in the comments section.
Kaitlyn Kotlowski is a senior account executive at Crenshaw Communications. A version of this story first appeared on the agency's blog, PR Fish Bowl.