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Playing With Giants – Without Getting Stepped On…

Playing With Giants – Without Getting Stepped On…

By: Chris Michaels, Senior Account Manager, Fusion PR

Recently, my client and I had an opportunity to participate in a rather large public event . We were asked by a large corporation to contribute to the event, by supplying the technology that enabled a public demonstration. Children and their parents could all get to see the “science behind the magic.”

Sounds good, right?

Especially when you hear that you’re getting a joint press release, a spokesperson to endorse your client, a press reception with over 40 attendees and the ability to use footage for your own press efforts.

But then the “fit hits the shan,” so to speak. The event happens, and you’ve received bupkis. It’s been one headache after another trying to deal with their press liaisons; and after the dust clears your client is looking to you to clean up the mess.

Take it from me, it’s a lousy predicament. While you would love to take your slingshot and hit the Goliath between the eyes, you have to take into consideration a few things. Your client means little to them, even if they mean the world to your client. The third party validation alone is enough to raise eyebrows and get attention from the press, yet without having anything to show and only being allowed to press old news makes it difficult for you to do your job. Also, unless you have a contract that lays-out the explicit details the responsibilities and permissions; you may not be able to say a thing.

Larger corporations often play with a different set of rules when it comes to vendors, or service providers. They’re the story, not your client, and they might not want you to steal their limelight. So what can you do to make sure you can get something out of the whole situation?

Here are a few steps that should help:

  1. Get it in writing – Even if your client has verbal agreements, depending on State, they don’t mean a thing unless it’s on paper and signed. Advise your clients to have a PR Section in vendor/service contracts that detail what you will need to put together an appropriate release/alert or case-study. Spokespersons, releases, brand guidelines, outreach and client liaison should all be detailed.
  2. Get your contacts early – While your client may want to control the relationship with the big dog, push to get the conversations started ASAP with your counterpart at the other company. Explain the items in the contract and set up a deliverable schedule of when you will send things back and forth for review.
  3. Don’t worry about doubling efforts – Unless contract clauses prevent you from doing your own outreach, press the heck out of the partnership. Even if the large company will continue outreach on its behalf, it may not be in your best interest to let them run the show. They have their own set of goals for coverage, and may not consider your messaging, positioning or even name when they reach out to the same person.
  4. Eat your fiber – Well, at least call the counterpart regularly until the event. Either schedule a weekly check-in or become a pesky fly that keeps buzzing the ear, make sure you have the status updates well in advance. This way you’re more prepared and can have a better idea of success for both parties.

It can be easy to run with the big dogs, and don’t be afraid to hold your ground. They may have big feet, but don’t surrender unless you have to. Your client’s name is always bigger than theirs.

1 Comment
  • Suzanne McGee

    June 5, 2008 at 2:33 pm Reply

    Well said!!! Too often, smaller companies don’t feel they have a voice with their large clients. More information up front can make a huge difference when it comes to ensuring smooth relationships in PR. Thanks for the recap and your points.

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