Simply paying more doesn’t make sense

I have to a go to a difficult meeting on Monday. A potential client wants lots of press attention. They think simply calling in a PR agency and paying them a lot of money, if necessary, will be sufficient. But I don’t need all that money; first I need something else.

The company in question doesn’t currently have any new announcements. They also don’t want to tell too much, because they mainly want governments and very large organisations as clients, and “such customers can be quite sensitive”. Basically, they haven’t got much to say, and they don’t want to say much. What should a journalist do with that?

What should we do with that? We can hardly invite journalists to a “quite shallow and long-winded interview with a director who keeps it general and presents trends, which everybody already knows, and which have already been written about in detail”?

We could of course tell the journalists that it will be an unbelievable, trail-blazing interview and then give them something that’s as good as useless. But we’re definitely not going to do that. It would ruin everyone’s reputation: our client’s, the journalists’ in the eyes of their bosses, and our own.

I hope I will be able to convince them. It’s only with good stories that you can appear in the press relatively easily. Give us material that can interest a broad public. Then we can try to make things a bit more controversial, make links to topical issues or at least ensure there is a good human-interest angle. Finally we will bring all the facts together to make it credible. I need all of this before I can get any press attention. And only then I am happy to send an invoice.

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