The PR Fuel Mailbag: TV Interviews, Finding the Right Public Relations Firm, and More

Time to peek into the PR Fuel mailbag. This time around, readers wanted to know how to handle tricky media interviews, how to find a public relations firm at the right price, and more.

Q: The good news is that the founder of my company is going to be interviewed on a television magazine show. The bad news is that the producer wants to do the interview at our office, which is not exactly the type of place we want the public to get a look at. What do you suggest we do?

A: This reader said he works for a small software company where most of the employees work from home. The small office is “like something out of a bad detective novel”; only a few people work there. I suggested that the company simply rent an office or conference room at an office center for the day. Fib to the producer by saying that the company is in the process of moving offices. It’s worth adding a few hundred dollars to your public relations budget to put on a good public face.

Q: We’ve been looking to hire a public relations firm, but we just can’t find one that we can afford. We thought about hiring someone to work in-house, but we want someone with good experience, and we can’t seem to offer anyone enough money.

A: Sounds like you need to find an independent contractor whom you can hire on a month-to-month basis. If money is tight, advertise the position on Craigslist. Join a social network such as LinkedIn and try to make a connection that way. Services such as Elance are also good resources for finding public relations contractors and consultants.

Q: I pitched an exclusive to a reporter at a local newspaper and he said he was interested. He even did a preliminary interview with one of our executives. That was three weeks ago and the reporter has not returned my phone calls since. Should I just move on?

A: Three weeks without a return phone call sounds like someone is trying to send you a message. It’s time to pitch the story elsewhere. Don’t mention your dealings with the reporter unless you pitch someone at his paper. If you do pitch to someone at his paper, as a courtesy to the new reporter you should mention that the other reporter started working on a piece and then “lost contact.:”

Q: We’re very unhappy with the outside public relations firm we hired six months ago. They made a lot of promises and they’ve delivered on none of them. When we complain, they tell us to “take it easy” and “don’t worry, we’re working on it.” We still have six months left on the contract, but we want out. What can we do?

A: You’ll need to talk to a lawyer about how you can get out of the contract. In the meantime, I would demand a face-to-face meeting involving the top-level people involved on both sides. Tell the public relations firm that their work has been unacceptable and you want out of the contract. Be detailed when you list your grievances so that the public relations firm completely understands what you expected of them and what has not been delivered. Remember, you’re the client. The public relations firm was hired to serve your needs.

This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (, a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit:

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