I wish every publicist or PR person would sign a prenuptial agreement with their client before signing the actual contract.
The prenup would make it clear that the publicist has ultimate control over things like the exact wording of pitches to the media, or the length and wording of press releases.
Based on my work the last several years with publicists, including a few in The Publicity Hound Mentor Program, too many of them let their clients boss them around. They’re afraid to say anything when the client is wrong. Yet they’re willing to put their sterling reputation on the line and risk making fools of themselves in front of their media contacts.
Why does this happen? Because too many PR people, I believe, are so thankful to get the work that they feel beholden to their clients, and they jump every time clients snap their fingers.
I’ve seen PR people:
–Write a short, compelling pitch that, later, the client waters down and orders them not to change. The pitch, instead of catching the media’s attention, simply massages the client’s ego.
–Write a long, rambling press release that includes the obligatry B.S. quote from a client high in the release. The quote adds nothing, and makes the client sound pompous and self-promotional.
–Turn down invitations for their client to appear in top-tier media, after the publicist has worked tirelessly to secure the placement. Clients sometimes tell the publicist at the beginning of a publicity campaign that they want national publicity. Then for whatever reason, they suddenly get cold feet when a paper like USA Today or a program like “Dateline” calls. Many clients are oblivious to the “snowball” effect of a top-tire media placement.
–Make pests out of themselves following up with the media after sending a routine press release. When I worked as an editor, I sometimes got calls from PR people who said “I hate to bother you, but my boss is insisting I make this phone call. Can you tell me if you got our release and do you know when it will be printed?” If you make calls like that, you probably have no idea how ridiculous you sound and that the media person to whom you are speaking is making a mental note that you’re a real pain in the butt.
Many of you can probably add to this list. If you have an effective way of telling clients before you sign a contract with them that you won’t put your good reputation on the line and that it’s your job as a publicist to protect them from doing stupid things that will hurt them, please share your tips with other Hounds.
Do you actually write language like this into the contract? Or is your agreement verbal?