It’s time for another dip into the PR Fuel mailbag. This time around, readers have questions about job interviews with public relations firms; the pros and cons of media training courses; the potential public relations pitfalls of Facebook; and more.
Question: I recently had a job interview with a boutique public relations firm and it went well. I have a second interview next week but I’m a little concerned because they asked me to talk about some public relations ideas that I would generate for their clients. I understand they want to get some insight into my skills, but I feel like I’d be giving away something valuable for nothing in return. Any suggestions?
Answer: You shouldn’t worry about giving away a few ideas — even if they are brilliant. The public relations firm wants to see how your mind works and what types of ideas you can generate, so it makes sense for the firm to ask you to come to the table with something.
The best way to attack the project is to look at the publicity the firm is currently generating for a few of its clients and find the holes in coverage. If you do that, you may get that “a-ha!” moment when the interviewers tell you, “That’s exactly what we’re missing.” The public relations firm is looking to add to its talent base, not steal knowledge from a contractor.
Question: Does media training actually work? We hired a new executive who is probably going to be getting some face time on television down the road and we’re considering sending him to a media training course.
Answer: Media training can make a huge difference and should be considered for any client or coworker you expect to appear on television. A good media trainer will teach you a number of things, such as how to phrase your answers properly and what language to avoid. Typically, a media trainer will tape mock interviews with the trainee and then review the tapes. You’ll learn how to dress, how to sit, what to do with your hands and eyes, and how to enunciate better. More important, the media trainer will help teach the trainee how to focus on key messages and avoid being ambushed.
Question: Recently, I joined Facebook. Once I got comfortable with the site, I invited a bunch of friends to be, well, friends. I also invited some journalist acquaintances. Many of them added me as friends, but a few ignored my invitation. Was it unprofessional of me to invite them?
Answer: No, it was not unprofessional. A lot of people on social networking sites have “friends” they barely know. Others only want their real-life friends as contacts. I understand both points of view.
My Facebook “friends” are a combination of real friends, professional acquaintances including journalists, and total strangers who work in my industry. I figure that if I conduct myself professionally on the site, I can’t do any damage to my professional reputation.
A journalist recently took me off her Facebook friends list. She explained to me that she’s using Facebook only for her real-life friends. She sent a nice note explaining her situaiton, and there are no hard feelings. Regardless, one reason I joined Facebook was to start a group to promote my company’s product with journalists and Wall Street professionals. This particular journalist may have “de-friended” me, but she’s still a member of my group, which is all I really cared about anyway.
Question: One of our clients asked us to help them plan a holiday party for later this year. They gave us a budget and told us the number of guests they want invited. We’ve gone over the numbers a dozen times, and based on our client’s budget, we’re going to be eating Taco Bell. We asked them for a bigger budget, but they won’t budge! What do we do here?
Answer: If the client is being unreasonable with the budget, show the client exactly what it’s going to get for its money and explain that the party will become part of the company’s public image. Does the client want to come off as a company that throws a holiday party in a YMCA with Taco Bell and off-brand soft drinks? If it does, so be it. Otherwise, insist on a budget increase, a smaller guest list, or that the client hires a party planner. Or try an off-season party for this company. I bet the prices on everything will be 25 percent cheaper.
This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.