Ron Levy (6/04):
They sound so sincere and they FEEL sincere, but if they have a drink before lunch, ask in a confidential tone what the one thing that the old man would LOVE most of all from PR. Repeatedly, and no less sincerely, the answer may be to get us The New York Times ... or get the stock price up to a "common sense" valuation ... or get the media not to believe "those bastards" (commonly critics rather than competitors) ... or think of what we can do to influence Washington successfully on this, "and remember that we definitely must stay above board."
In the back of their minds--and sometimes close to the front--they expect you to push for more budget and they come to the meeting after they've already thought about what to say to you about reasons not to.
A third important reality in evaluating lofty aspirations is that the person announcing to you the aspirations--even a very highly placed exec specifying noble goals--may not be the one who'll down the road judge how good a job you did and whether you were worth what you cost.
Often the clients don't KNOW what they want so that a key to getting good marching orders, then happiness with your work--and sometimes the MAIN key--is coming in with a laundry list of opportunities to increase sales and earnings. This may bring the delightful enthusiasm you can generate by taking a small child to a toy store--and I won't even mention adult activities.
More imporrtant than the "what you see is what you get" wisdom (and sometimes the client doesn't get it but some firms report at the end of the period that it's a project in progress): what you DON'T see is what you CAN get so let me lay out some of the money-making objectives that skilled PR can go after. The brightest ones love it. On their own they may sincerely assign truth and beauty and public service as top objectives but if you lay out seven different ways to get money, you may well get yours by helping the clients to get theirs. Money not only talks but persuades and evokes applause.