Category Archives: CEO

Taboos in PR, What the Biz Exec Needs to Know

Every profession has taboos and things that tarnish reputations and business efforts. Public relations is no different. By knowing the taboos, business executives can do a better job finding the PR team that fits their needs, budget and culture.

7 PR Taboos Revealed, Attention Business Executives


  1. A Press Release Is Not PR. No matter what anyone tries to sell you, one press release is not a business-changing event—or a public relations (PR) program. It is one component that is usually overused and sometimes useless. Effective PR requires a PR person—someone adept, experienced, creative and comfortable walking the tight rope between client needs and reporter needs. And pricing? NEVER pay more than a $500-$1,000 for someone to write a press release. Ever.
  2. No Value. If you don’t value PR, don’t do PR. Often, PR is perceived as a necessary evil – and a drain on the marketing budget. If the executive team doesn’t believe it can add value, allocate dollars elsewhere. Better yet, have someone explain its value—and how it compares to other communications efforts.
  3. Trust or Bust. If you can’t trust ‘em, fire ‘em. There are quality PR agencies and people who know the rules and boundaries—and have the news noses that matter. Sadly, there are many who don’t.
  4. Play Fair, Play Baseball. Not every news release or PR story idea will be a home run. And nobody hits home runs all the time. Expect PR to be like a baseball game. Sometimes there are first-base hits. Sometimes there are strike-outs. Clarify and manage expectations starting from day one. Be specific. Be real.
  5. Avoid Long Legs. I hate to admit what I’ve seen in my career. I know agencies who strut in the young account ladies to woo the prospects – most of whom were all-male Boomers who lapped up the extravagant beauty in the room. Sexism in galactic proportion. Don’t fall for the oldest trick in the book. Good PR is not sex, sizzle, short skirts and long legs. It’s about news smarts, big ideas, hard work and persistent outreach—and usually works best when involving energetic, personable men and women, no matter there age or body type.
  6. Know What You Pay For. So what should you pay for PR? It depends on scope and breadth, and monthly deliverables, all of which should be in a written plan. I’ve seen consistently successful PR programs for $1,500 per month (a small business client). I also recognize that PR programs can be $10K to $20K/month BUT know what you’re paying for, and avoid nickel-and-dimers.
  7. Madness Over Metrics. It’s the PR Achilles Heel. How the hell do you measure the value of a story in The Dallas Morning News? Is the story all about you? Are you one of several sources quoted in the article? Is your key message embodied in the story? Do you measure by number of “news hits” or rank stories in terms of message, or both? It’s a nightmare. Business executives rarely care to see anything except “tonnage”—the number of articles that includes the company name or an executive quote. There are tools for PR measurement. They cost a lot. In 25-plus years, I’ve had two clients willing to pay for such services. Work with your PR agency on the metrics. Stick to them and revise, as needed. Without metrics, there is no way to ascertain success.

This is not intended to assume that the PR industry or its people are largely flacks and quacks willing to cheat companies and clients. Not. Most PR people are hard-working, family-loving professionals doing a job. With integrity.

Now, share YOUR experience working with PR professionals.

Keep it PRactical.



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Filed under CEO, news release, PR, PR agencies, press release, Public Relations, Small Business

Small Biz & Big D(epression): See it, Admit it, Overcome it

Life is crazy-busy. That’s how Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling puts it. She’s right, especially if you own your own agency or small business. Add a coefficient of about 12 if you have employees.

The result is little sleep, little down time and a nervous energy that often manifests in anger, isolation, hysteria. And yes, depression.
I know of what I speak. I started RGM Communications in 2007. The initial euphoria of a long-held dream diminished when I experienced the daunting tasks of being Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Client Service Manager, Chief PR Strategist & Tactician and Chief Tax Payor. Plus Husband, Father, Coach, Errand Runner, Mommy #2, on and on. C-H-I-E-F. One boss from yesteryear used to tell me that employees will never be able to understand why the business owner is a crazy loon sometimes. He’s right. The pressures are relentless, with cash flow ever on the mind.

My point: Depression is real. It’s a dripping faucet that wastes personal resources such as energy, motivation, creativity and vision. And for us Driver types-–those of us who want to make it happen and will do whatever to make it happen, depression is a thorn that is hard to pull out and move on. It’s irritating, fueled by shame, and in some cases, a debilitating disease. That means sales swerve and hit highs and lows; action items fall through the cracks; excuses are too commonplace. And guilt rules every day.

Sounds hopeless. Sounds like it’s time to give up, give in and just forget it. And, perhaps, such confessions may risk client relations and sales prospects. That’s regretful since medical resources report that nine of 10 people suffer from depression. About 8.7 million people in this country received treatment for depression in 2007 compared to about 6.5 million in 1997.”

So is it hopeless? No. Giving up and giving in is not an option. It’s a sign that you must clarify what’s real, what’s not, and the work you need to do (or not do) to battle it. You now must become the Chief Personal-Care Officer. The Chief Self-Care Officer. There has to be a self-examination built on courage and support. Overcoming emotional chaos is built on the foundations of admitting your weakness (“Oh my god, not that!”) and then taking action.

Here are some steps to take when Big D creeps into your life:

Action. Decide that depression will not rule your life. Decide on actions and small steps that will clear the fog, offer hope and get you on track.

Admission. It’s time to look at yourself and affirm what you do best. And to admit what you don’t do well. Look at your career strengths and weaknesses, but also dig through what makes you tick and your flaws. Here’s The Big Secret no one ever talks about—or admits: We are all flawed. We’re all Damaged Goods, from kings and celebrities to presidents and paupers.

Accountability. It’s in our DNA to go it alone. To drive and push and cram and make “it” happen. We’re soloists, Lone Rangers, Supermen and Wonder Women. We do it alone. Not now, not this time. You and I need others to lean on. We need a trustworthy accountability partner that can cheer us on, challenge us, listen and empathize. Accountability shakes off the barnacles that push us into deep waters and destruction. Accountability is for strong men and women willing to be vulnerable. Willing to hear the hard stuff. And admitting it.

Check The Speed Limit. I have a lead foot. I push it all to the floor most of the time. I zip and zap so fast that I miss a lot. Check your speed limit, slow down a bit. Discover clouds in the sky again, or rays of sun breaking through the clouds. My favorite “breather” is just having a conversation with my 9-year-old. He recently told me he wished he could gather “air in a ball and throw it really hard.” Not sure what that means, but hey, it was fun talking about it. Slow it down.

God Stuff. Yeah, spirituality matters. It’s a quest to find solace in solitude. It is taking time to examine self, a Higher Power and matters of the heart. The result is usually profound personal discovery. Take it slow. Journal your thoughts. Read. Counsel.

Wise Counsel. Sometimes (usually) depression is too big, dark and scary to confront alone . That’s when professional counsel is required. Why do we fight it, and perceive seeing a counselor as a weakness vs. a strength? Doesn’t it take more character and courage to confront the issues than to avoid them and live through the personal hell for an entire lifetime? Find a quality counselor. That’s not always easy to do. Make sure you try three or four counselors before it feels right.

Meds. Who in America isn’t on anti-depressants? Depression may be because of external circumstances and relationships, or some emotional issue. What we forget is that depression can also be a chemical deficiency in our bodies and brains. Find out, get tested and talk to a psychiatrist. It can mean the difference between feeling a lifetime of gray to growing as a vibrant, vivacious person. Don’t settle for “what is.” Seek “What Can Be.”

My story of depression is too long (and depressing) to share here. But it’s real. And common. I admit that depression’s grip was unyielding. I’ve not always been at my best, nor do I profess Complete Restoration. I have “not arrived” but the journey is brighter, more hopeful and enjoyable.

Get back to business. Back to life and family and fun.

Enjoy the ride. It’s over before you know it.

–The PRactical PR Guy

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Filed under CEO, PR, Public Relations, Small Business