As the author of Spin Sucks, I was interested to read something written about the lies PR firms tell...and I was saddened to learn her list was pretty accurate.
It included things such as: We love your product and the media will love it, too!
I snickered at that one because, going into a relationship with a new client, we always love them, their organization, and what they sell. It isn't, of course, until you get about 30 days into a relationship that you truly understand the features, benefits, and challenges of what you have to help them build awareness for and sell.
The Lies PR Firms Tell
Taking a combination of her list and our own, following are the lies PR firms tell either to win business or to keep a client happy.
- We love your product. Have you ever worked with a client whose product you actually use? It's a lot easier to define the pros and cons - and what customers might have negative feedback on - if you use the product. But many of us work with clients who sell something we've never used. Case in point: I used to do "from the farm to the fork" communications, which meant I worked with clients who sold chemicals to growers. While I can go out into any cornfield, tell you which weeds are there, and what will control them, I've never actually used the product.
- We absolutely can tell your story in an interesting - and new - way. Particularly when you're sitting in a new business meeting and the prospect tells you all about what they do, it's hard not to fall in love (or not). One way or another, you think - and may actually say out loud - this has such a great story! Of course, your rose-colored glasses don't see the real story until you begin to work with the client and really dig in.
- The media will love your story. And that may be true, if the client will let you tell the story in an interesting and different way. But, too often, we take a new client, start the work, and discover they hired us simply to distribute news releases about everything they do. That interesting story? It doesn't get told because the client isn't comfortable doing so.
- You need five pieces of content every week. Of course, what you want your client to do is be consistent, not pump out content for the sake of hitting a number every week. We like to start with twice a week, then add a third (if it's working) about 60 days in, then a fourth, and then a fifth. Most of our clients never get beyond three pieces because that seems to be the magical B2B number.
- Yep, we can do that. Particularly if you're an agency that is in growth mode, the "we can do it" attitude prevails...even if you can't. Need a professional produced video? No problem! We can do that (as you scurry to find someone you can hire for the project).
- We work with other agencies quite well. I would love for this one to be true...and I think many people go into a relationship thinking it can work. But when you're fighting for the same dollars and a limited amount of work, it's nearly impossible to do what's best for the client and not what's best for your own profitability.
- The proposal just needs one more good edit. This translates to, "We haven't actually started your proposal and, now that you're asking for it, we're going to rush to get it finished overnight." We always tell prospects it takes a full week to write a proposal - and that's pushing it (my team would love for me to say it takes longer).
- You should update social media multiple times every day. You may not even realize this is a fib because it's what you do and it's what some of your other clients do. But the number of social media updates truly depends on the organization. For some, it might be five to 10 times a day and others just once. You won't know the answer until you get in there and test.
- We have experience in your industry. What you're really thinking is, "How hard can it be? Communications is communications." Unless you can produce a case study that proves your experience in the industry, this is not the truth.
Now it's your turn, what are the lies PR firms tell that aren't listed here?