Category Archives: service to clients

PR Quiz: Social Media Edition

The correct answers to these 9 PR/social media questions may be obvious. But not always.


A team member schedules posts around the clock on your client’s Twitter feed. The content is good. One night a breaking news item is dominating TV and the web, especially Twitter. What do you do?

  1. Let the scheduled tweets be sent, figuring that more people than usual are checking their feeds and will see this meaningful content.
  2. Hijack one of the hashtags being used in breaking news tweets to get client tweets before more eyeballs.
  3. Cancel the tweets for fear of being perceived as out of touch with what’s happening and/or insensitive to the situation.


Your new client who hired you to do social for her business continues to tweet in the first person singular on the organization’s account, even though in strategy sessions all parties agreed the Twitter voice should be first person plural. What do you do?

  1. Delete all her tweets that begin with “I”.
  2. Help her get more than 62 followers on her personal account (so she’ll be more likely to share her thoughts there).
  3. Don’t worry about it until the business account hits 2,000 followers.


A customer has posted an unfavorable comment about your client’s business on the organization’s Facebook page you manage. While the post is written in a calm, measured tone, it points out a problem that needs to be looked at by ownership. What do you do?

  1. Delete the post.
  2. Reply to the post with an apology and word that the issue will be addressed.
  3. Copy and send the comment to owners/managers in an email and ask them to respond.
  4. Do nothing.


A savvy manager for your client’s business has a great eye for compelling visual content and posts wonderful pics to the company’s Instagram account. However his descriptions are too long and always get cut off when are copied to the 140-character Twitter feed. What do you do?

  1. Insist that Instagram posts DO NOT get copied to Twitter.
  2. Teach him to write shorter.
  3. Don’t worry about it; lots of folks do it this way.


The owner of the restaurant you consult posts photos to the Facebook page but her photos are not good and the food items she posts are unappetizing. What do you do?

  1. Tell her to take the pics near a window to get better light.
  2. Ask her to get a phone with a better camera and stop using the flash.
  3. Ask her to hire a professional photog and stop taking food pics herself.
  4. Monitor the feed and delete those images that are off-putting.


A post you made on a client’s Facebook page gets a large number of likes, shares and comments. While you personally thought the post’s content was not extraordinary, you are aware it resonated with your target. What do you do?

  1. Try to create more posts just like that one
  2. Share it on your own personal page.
  3. Have the client cough up some bucks and promote the post to others in the chosen demo/area.


A client has a daughter who is obsessed with Pinterest. The client repeatedly insists that you begin sharing content for his business via Pinterest (a move you feel to be of minimal value for his particular business). What do you do?

  1. Do the Pinterest thing as requested, warning that it may turn out to be time and effort wasted. (After all, he is the client!)
  2. Continue to brush off the client’s wrongheaded guidance as long as you can, so you can focus on social platforms that have delivered results.
  3. Resign the account.


Your client emails you a blog post he saw suggesting that all Facebook posts ask a question to generate comments. You have found that questions asked on his company’s Facebook feed generally get very few comments, whereas other content gets good response. What do you do?

  1. Say thanks but ignore the blog recommendation.
  2. Ask questions on his Facebook feed on topics that are polarizing, though not controversial, to generate comments. (Even if questions do not directly relate to client’s business.)
  3. Point out to your client that the “ask a question” strategy works better for some than others.


A team member makes a Hootsuite mistake on a Friday night and accidentally retweets a friend’s party pic to your client’s Twitter feed. It receives no mentions from client’s 3,000+ followers, but is clearly inappropriate for his feed. It stays there all weekend until you delete it Monday morning. What do you do?

  1. Apologize via the feed to all the account’s followers.
  2. Chastise the team member for using Hootsuite while drinking.
  3. Let the client know what happened and mention steps being taken to prevent it happening again.
  4. Say nothing.


Here’s my hope that you do the right thing when faced with similar situations. Right for you. Right for you clients.















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How Much Are You Worth?

A court case is currently underway in St. Louis regarding fair pay for a former employee of Anheuser-Busch. The plaintiff contends that her pay was less than it should’ve been. Her claim is based mainly on a higher compensation amount received by her predecessor.

Was she paid less because she is a woman? Was she paid less because her job description was different from that of her predecessor? Was she paid less because hers was not a position that led directly to revenue generation? Was her gender a factor in her getting hired in the first place? Whatever the outcome, the case has generated much discussion locally.

I have always contended that you (or I) as employees are worth as much as we can get someone to pay us. Is a pro jock really worth 5, 10 or 20 million per season? If he (or his agent) can convince an owner to pay him that much, the answer is yes.

If I can convince an employer or a client that my work for him or her is worth a certain fee per month, then I am worth that amount—until that employer or client chooses to end the arrangement.

As long as you or I continue to provide value for the amount we are receiving (in the judgment of those we work for), then we are worth that amount. Fortunately, most of the people I have worked for in my professional life have found my services to be of value.

Are you (or I) worth more than we are being paid now? The best way to find out is to test the market. Is it worth risking current business relationships/employment situations to track down new and different opportunities? That may be hard to answer. But as the economy improves, and business needs are reassessed, it’s wise to keep your options open.




It’s Not About Me, It’s About My Clients

Think about the best TV spot you’ve ever seen. Can you name the agency that did it? Probably not.

Think about the best print ad you’ve ever seen. Any idea which agency it came from? Not likely.

When you read a profile of a successful individual in print or online, does the PR person who arranged the piece get mentioned? In almost all cases, no.

But when a social media firm posts content with links onto a client’s Facebook or Twitter feeds, is it okay for the URL shortener to include the name of the agency?

To me, it appears that the agency is promoting itself along with the client. It also seems less authentic, less organic. It may even distract from the message if, before clicking the link, a person wonders, “what is this”

I could be wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time. Do followers really care whether a link begins with,, or

In my social media work for clients, I try to remain transparent. If I post on a client’s Facebook or Twitter channels, followers should have no awareness of my involvement. It’s not about me, it’s about my clients.

Yes, I’ve posted links to media coverage obtained for clients on my own social accounts. But my involvement should not matter to viewers, listeners and readers.

Bud Light, K-Mart and others have had successful edgy commercials that never aired on broadcast or cable, but were shared online. If you saw them, you likely accessed them via Youtube, not through the websites of the agencies that created these viral videos.

Those agencies know that content for consumers is not about them, it’s about their clients.

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What Can I Do This Week to Help My Clients?

  1. Look for opportunities and venues to tell their stories.
  2. Refine their messages. Find new hooks.
  3. Make contact in person or by phone to stay aware of new activities. Listen. Take notes. Share relevant information that I may have uncovered.
  4. Monitor each of their channels including websites and social media accounts.
  5. Post content to the social media accounts and blogs for which I am responsible.
  6. Keep up with news/trends in their business categories, as well as in mine, via select industry websites and emails.
  7. Reach out to media outlets and individuals with client information (via alerts/releases, targeted pitches or questions about content needs).
  8. Utilize Google Alerts and other search tools to find online mentions of clients.
  9. Monitor local and national media outlets to keep informed of their respective content and styles.
  10. In the case of food and beverage clients, visit their restaurants, eat their food and drink their beverages.
  11. Network with others in the PR, marketing and social media biz. Ask questions; offer input.
  12. Compose marketing emails, keeping in mind that a large percentage will be viewed on a mobile device.
  13. Share my clients’ stories with friends and associates (who may respond with relevant insight/information).
  14. Be available to answer calls or respond to voicemails, text messages or emails in a timely manner.
  15. Keep my clients’ needs a priority in my personal activities, including my own social media content.

I’m sure there are more items I could add to the list, but this, I hope, is a good start.

What They Want versus What YOU THINK They Want

Have you ever bought a gift for someone that you thought the person would love that got a lukewarm reaction? Have you ever cooked a special meal for someone that you thought the person would rave about that ended it being half-eaten? Have you ever told a joke that you thought the group would find hilarious that resulted in groans?

We have all made miscalculations where something we put forth lays an egg. We put things out there with good intentions, but sometimes the reaction is not what’s hoped for.

When this happens, what should you do? I think the two main choices are: change your approach or quit trying. I would suggest you quit trying only in extreme circumstances. Or when what you’re delivering is so radical that it’s avant garde.

One way to change your approach is to tailor your offerings (gifts, meals, jokes, work, etc.) to the wants of the other party. Of course, determining the wants of the other party is not always easy. For instance: you say to your spouse or friend, “What toppings do you want on the pizza?” They say, “I don’t care.” Then, when they open the box and find pineapple and anchovies, they say, “WTF?”

In the business world, trial and error works sometimes. But generally, a bit of research is called for. Ask the questions that will give you the answers you need. Listen and observe diligently. If your best client or customer happens to mention she’s turned vegan, don’t give her a cheese and sausage gift pack for Christmas. If a prospect tells you he doesn’t open emails with attachments, send your proposal as the body of the email, not as a Word file or PowerPoint.

If you are a creative person, stay creative. Do work that pleases you, work you can be proud of. But try to determine what will work to accomplish your purposes (and those of your client or customer). Don’t take it personally when something you poured great effort into gets shot down. This happens to creative people all over the world, every day.

You will have experiences where you deliver just exactly what is wanted and called for—and for some reason it does not connect or does not work out. Think of all the scripts in Hollywood that writers wrote years ago that are great but have never been produced, for whatever reason.

Most of us will continue to produce some work that, for one reason or another, is not given the “thumbs up” we desire. Maybe it needs a small revision. Maybe you need to blow it up and start over. Make stronger efforts to have a good idea what is wanted and needed. Sometimes such guidance can paint a clear path. But not always. Keep trying.

What Makes The Cut?

A client had a conversation with a newspaper reporter recently. The client expected the call to last 30 minutes at most. It went on for nearly two-and-a-half hours! Was that a good thing? Maybe.

I explained to the client that she is not able to control what might be used in any story the reporter would write. She can only hope that he includes all or most of her key message points.

I’ve had print profiles done on me during my time as a morning radio host. I recall chatting with a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter for about 40 minutes. I gave him enough good content, I thought, to fill the paper’s entire Sunday magazine. When the item ran a few Sundays later—four or five paragraphs long, as I recall—he included only a couple of my good nuggets and three or four of my throwaway remarks.

In Jacksonville, a newspaper reporter asked me what station I listened to when I was not listening to my own station. I replied that, since I was involved in my station’s programming, I monitored our main format competitor to keep up with what they were doing. When the item ran, that answer made it appear that I was a big fan of my competitor.

As one who had recorded interviews and press conferences on my trusty cassette recorder and lifted brief sound bites from within a large amount of content, I should have given more thought to what I was doing.

When you have the opportunity to participate in any kind of media interview, you need to prepare. Consider the points you want to communicate and those items you might wish to avoid. Even then, your strong content—though worthy and clearly stated—may not be what’s wanted/needed for a story.

The recent movie “Savages” has so much narrative and so many characters that actress Uma Thurman’s scenes were cut. She is a talented performer with huge box office appeal. But she did not make the cut.

If Oliver Stone can cut a major star out of a big movie, that radio/TV/newspaper reporter can certainly choose not to include your contribution. Or, the reporter may pick up on a casual “sidebar” type remark instead of your main points.

My main advice is to make sure your points are delivered clearly and concisely. Avoid casual add-ons to your answers. And hope that the media person presents your comments in a fair and responsible manner. Good luck making the cut!

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PR Quiz, Part II

Sometimes the right answer is obvious. Other times, things are a bit hazy and the correct answer may be harder to discern. But, go ahead, take a crack at ‘em…

You’ve been hired to handle local media for a celebrity chef’s book tour. The two early TV shots go great, but morning radio show “A” delays its in-studio interview from 7:00 to 7:20, which pushes your visit to radio show “B” back from 7:45 to 8:10. “B” keeps guest on until 8:30, which means you won’t make it to show C before they go off air at 9:00. What do you do?

  1. Call “C” and tell them the chef got sick and needed to go back to his hotel room.
  2. Call “C” and offer them a phoner with the chef (even though he’s right here in town).
  3. Take the chef to station “C” to say hello and offer to record something for tomorrow’s show (even though his book signing is today).

You have three work-related events scheduled on the same night. What do you do?

  1. Attend a (boring) dinner at which a former client will receive an award for which you worked on the nomination package.
  2. Attend a networking event with people you like at hot new restaurant/bar.
  3. Attend a reception at one of city’s high-end restaurants, which has a dramatic view. (Only event spouse would accompany).

You write a basic release for a client who is opening a new retail location. It’s a standard, “just the facts” type release with a perfunctory quote from the owner. When the major metropolitan daily simply copies and pastes the entire release, what do you do?

  1. Kick yourself for not writing more stylish, distinctive prose.
  2. Tell your associates privately that those people at the paper are too lazy to do a simple rewrite.
  3. Smile and be happy that you got your coverage.

A client’s daughter is suspended from high school for posting lewd photos on Facebook. Somehow a TV reporter gets the story and airs it, identifying the girl not by her name, but as the daughter of your client. What do you do?

  1. Call the TV newsroom and advise that any further use of your client’s name may result in a lawsuit.
  2. Call the newspaper and ask them not to identify the girl or the client by name (if they run the story at all), since she has not been charged with a crime.
  3. Call the client and advise him to suspend his daughter’s Facebook account.

Your client plans to close its three stores in Kansas City. You plan to issue a release at 3:00 p.m. on Friday. At 10:30 a.m. Friday, a reporter for the KC business weekly asks you to confirm all the details of the closings, which he got from a staffer with loose lips. What do you do?

  1. Deny, deny, deny.
  2. Tell him you will issue a release at 3:00 p.m. on the matter.
  3. Tell him you’ll confirm it, but only if he will reveal who gave him the heads-up.

You meet a PR friend’s former client at a business luncheon. The ex-client mentions that she currently needs PR help and would like to meet with you. What do you do?

  1. Call your friend and ask permission.
  2. Call your friend, tell her about the conversation and ask for her thoughts.
  3. Meet with your friend’s ex-client, get the ex-client to sign a contract, then, as a courtesy, call your friend.

You are hired to write copy for a 32-page sales brochure. A talented PR friend who is out of work calls and says “got anything?” What do you do?

  1. Share the job with him, 50/50.
  2. Hire him to do the work for 50% of what they’re paying you.
  3. Tell him you’re extremely busy—which you are—and that you’ll call him back in two weeks.

You pitch the #1 local morning TV news show, offering them an exclusive interview with your newsworthy client, but days later they still haven’t responded to emails and voicemails. So you call the #3 morning news show, they take the pitch and book the exclusive. The next day, that #1 show calls back, and wants to schedule the exclusive for their top interview spot. What do you do?

  1. Cancel #3 and take #1 for greater exposure.
  2. Keep the booking at #3 and tell #1 you’re sorry but you need to honor your commitment.
  3. Advise your client to skip both interviews so you will not hurt anybody’s feelings.









Client Content For Reputation Management

The St. Louis chapter of PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) had a recent program on publishing a book for reputation management. The author/presenter said a book is a “highly effective calling card” that can enhance or repair one’s reputation. For him, writing and publishing a book resulted in significant consulting and speaking fees.

But what if your client does not have the time to write an entire book? How about writing something shorter?

Yes, a blog is a powerful thing and we all love good web content, but a widely distributed print publication may have greater impact.

Your newspaper may be looking for contributions for their Op-Ed page. Does your client have the expertise to write a commentary about a hot button topic or an ongoing issue? If not, can you help your client organize ideas and compose an article that states your client’s thoughts in a coherent manner? Offering meaningful input on a subject your client is knowledgeable about can enhance his or her reputation.

A client whose health care category suffers from many misconceptions wrote (with my help) an Op-Ed piece in 2010 that shared vital information with the public and the medical community. The article was submitted shortly after health care reform legislation was passed, making it timely and topical. The article ran in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Op-Ed section and resulted in strong positive feedback for my client.

Another client who owns several restaurants in St. Louis went on trips to Europe in ’09 and ’10. Both times I suggested he take notes, which I would help him turn into a travel story. My idea was that he and I would submit his experiences and observations to our local paper for the Sunday Travel section. Both years he came home without notes.

In 2011, he took a bus tour of Italy, visiting wineries and restaurants throughout the country. When he returned, he shared with me extensive notes he had written on his iPad while rolling across the countryside. His travel diary, with detailed reporting on the food and wine he had consumed, required no rewriting, just editing.

A local St. Louis food magazine recently printed his travel journal and several of his photos in a spread that covered seven pages. The online version features four recipes that the client put together, based on food he ate in Italy. The spread will serve as a “highly effective calling card” for my client.

The travel diary showcases his knowledge of Italian food and wine. This is important because one of his restaurants is considered by many to be the most authentic Italian restaurant in St. Louis. His other two restaurants feature Italian menu items. My client’s good reputation as a chef was established through years of hard work, but this feature helps reinforce that reputation. It also exposes him to new dining prospects who may soon enjoy the food and wine in his restaurants for the first time.

Talk to your clients about their activities and accomplishments. They may not visualize the same media opportunities you do. Remember: media need content. If your client can provide good content, that placement will be useful for the client and the media outlet.

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Events, Awards, Achievements=News

One of my PR clients was called last week and told that he is the winner of a significant award. This makes me happy because I prepared the nomination package that touted his virtues. It was a work-intensive effort, involving much writing and rewriting, as well as gathering and sorting of photos, data and endorsements.

When the award is officially announced, it will be news. It will be worthy of mentions in neighborhood and metro newspapers, as well as Chamber newsletters, the municipal newsletter, the community website and other venues. He will, of course, share the news via marketing emails to his database. What are you doing to tell the world about your organization’s events, awards and achievements?

Are you having an event that provides benefits to the community such as a food drive, a trivia night, an informational seminar (not a sales event) or a free health screening? Did your business or non-profit receive an award of any kind (including recognition from your national headquarters)? Did you move to a new facility, add a major player to your leadership, hit a sales or fundraising milestone, add an important product line or launch a new or redesigned website? Tell the world.

You may think that your event, award or achievement is small potatoes. You may think that your news is significant to you and your staff, but not such a big deal to anyone else. Put it out there. Tell the story to your local media. Pass the info along to your customers, clients and other business associates. Let your neighborhood paper and other media outlets determine if your story is worth printing.

Anything you can do to add a halo effect to your organization is worth doing. Will an award—such as the one my client just won—increase sales? That’s hard to measure. But by letting everyone know that a major organization thought he was the best in his category, he is casting himself in a positive light. Future dealings with banks, government agencies and trade groups (as well as with customers and vendors) may be influenced by this special status.

On behalf of my media friends, I will mention that they are hungry for content. Send them news about your accomplishments and contributions. If they don’t run your item this time, they are likely to be more familiar with you the next time you reach out to them.

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You and I Are Always “On Call”

Do your clients have 24/7 access to you? Have you told them they can text or call you anytime? What if a business contact finally decides to reach out to you—at 10:00 on a Sunday evening? Would you be ready and willing to answer that call, would you let it go to voicemail or would you take the call and ask for a callback on Monday?

With today’s mobile devices in our pockets or nearby during every waking minute, you are technically available at all times. If a prospect makes a decision late at night or on a weekend, would you prefer he call or text you immediately or would you prefer he wait until “office hours?”

I suggest you invite your clients to contact you at their convenience, any day and any time. Most will not call at odd hours, but your invitation will send a message to them that you are willing to provide the utmost in service. If there is an issue that does demand immediate attention, your availability and response early in the morning, late at night or on a weekend, will demonstrate your commitment to their needs—and may solve a problem that is time-sensitive.

Remember message slips from “back in the day?” The ones with “while you were out” across the top? If you were out of the workplace, you were unreachable (unless someone had your home number). Then, along came cell phones, cell phones with email and text messaging and  iPhones, smart phones and tablets to connect on social networks.

Now we are always connected, everywhere. Let your contacts know that they can call you anytime. Be ready to take care of business whenever the opportunity arises.

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