Friday, August 31, 2012

The Client Who Feared Publicity

I have had a number of clients over the years who have befuddled me.  They invest in a big campaign only to prove uncooperative and naïve about the process. I have had authors tell me they refuse to blog or use Twitter.  Others turned down major media opportunities because they simply didn’t want to make time for them.  Other times I had clients who thought a media outlet wasn’t worth doing even though it was big or influential.  But no one takes the prize for the client with the strangest attitude than a CEO of a Fortune 500 company I worked with a number of years ago.

Though he wrote a book on a subject that had already been covered to death by the media, he had great credentials and an interesting background.  For his NYC trip we had a schedule that any author would kill for – except him.  Interviews were scheduled to take place with the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, Fortune, AP and four major national business television shows. Just prior to his trip we got a glowing Miami Herald review, where the book ranked second on its business best-seller chart.

The Chicago Sun-Times also came out with a glowing review. The author had just done a 16-interview satellite TV tour and a 15-interview radio tour that included 10 nationally syndicated shows, each reaching hundreds of markets. The campaign was poised to explode.  The book was climbing best-seller lists for NYT, WSJ and Amazon.

The CEO was a first-time author but he was savvy. He was in the news previously for things pertaining to his business so we assumed he loved doing media and understood what was needed to have a successful campaign.  He didn’t want media coaching yet he was fearful of how the media would treat him or portray his book.

He had cancelled several interviews and looked like he might cancel a few more. Luckily, he didn’t.

The PR would benefit him personally, the company, and his book sales. He said he was investing a half-million dollars into the marketing of the book, though only a fraction of that was for our PR campaign.  You would think he would be a willing participant for PR but he surprised us by what he declined to do.  He turned down more media than most authors can garner.

It turned out he just had too many hang-ups, fears, and time constraints to do all the media we got for him.  His expectations were a bit odd.  But it all just goes to show you that anything can sabotage a PR campaign – even your own client.  It’s one thing when you can’t generate media interest for something you know is media-worthy, but it’s another when your client thinks the media is not worthy of him.

I haven’t quite run into anyone like him before or since, but I see mini-versions pop up here and there.  So here’s my advice:  Don’t enter into a PR campaign if your greatest concern is that you’ll actually get the media attention you hired someone to get for you.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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