CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q: I work in entertainment PR for a Hollywood movie studio. Like

everyone in the country, we have been horrified by the attacks on New

York and Washington, DC, and for a while no one wanted to even think

about entertainment, much less publicity. But now that a little time has

passed, there is a sense in my office that we need to try to get back to

normal, and that people might even really want to start seeing movies

and be entertained again. The problem I am having is that some of the

films' actors and directors are very reluctant to talk to the media

right now about their upcoming films. They are overwhelmed by the

terrorist attacks, and some of them feel it would be insulting and

trivial to the victims. I have a lot of sympathy for that point of view,

but I also think we need to move on a little. How can I help them feel

good about getting in front of the media?



Mr. K, Los Angeles



A: Hollywood has been keeping an appropriately low profile since that

terrible day. It is quite understandable that clients would feel

self-conscious and deflated about promoting films while other cities,

and indeed the country, are still grappling with the enormous loss.



But it seems that the public, by and large, is ready to start talking

about other things again. They are ready to go to the movies and hear a

little naughty gossip.



The Los Angeles Times ran an excellent story exploring this very

subject, in which the estimable Pat Kingsley, whose client list includes

such luminaries as Tom Cruise, was quoted about how she is advising her

clients to proceed. "I'm encouraging them to take a tip from Mayor

(Rudolph) Giuliani," she said. "It's time that they get back to

business. I would encourage people to come out and support their work at

the time it needs to be supported."



Q: I am an AAE in a mid-size agency, working in the food and beverage

practice. I enjoy my job for the most part, but I feel like I am ready

to start going out on new business pitches. My boss clearly thinks

otherwise, though, and I am still stuck on the phone all day cold

calling journalists, which is really tough. How can I get my boss to

take me seriously and let me prove what I can do?



Ms. D, Dallas



A: I posed your question to Barbi Pecenco, an AE with Edelman, who knows

a lot about hard work. "For some PR people, cold call pitching is the

bane of their existence," she replied.



But don't pooh-pooh the experience that cold calling will give you, she

cautioned. "You need to realize that it's a valuable tool. Everyone

knows that pitching is tough - so why not demonstrate your media savvy

skills to your employer with some really great placements?"



The lessons learned from successful cold calling will always help you in

your career. "Cold call pitching can only help with new business

pitching," Barbi said. "The principles are basically the same - you're

still selling. So perfect your cold calling technique. This will help

you gain the experience that will prove to your employer that you have

what it takes. It will impress your client too."



Barbi also said you shouldn't hesitate to let your agency know about

your achievements. "Once you've proven your worth, let your company know

what direction you would like your career to go and what your interests

are."



Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try

Pandora. E-mail her at pandora@ prweek.com.



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