CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q My team and I just completed an exhausting and intense project for a client. The effort resulted in a number of new sales leads for the company (which was the goal), thanks to a truly exceptional effort by everyone. I am very proud of my staff.

Q My team and I just completed an exhausting and intense project for a client. The effort resulted in a number of new sales leads for the company (which was the goal), thanks to a truly exceptional effort by everyone. I am very proud of my staff.

The problem is the president of the agency had a call from the client who complained about a few minor hiccups that occurred during one of the press tours we organized. The issue had no negative impact on the coverage, but the president has basically blown it all out of proportion and wants me to give him a full report, explaining what went wrong and why.

Meanwhile, neither the president nor the client has said a word to the team about how well the project went overall. The staff put itself through hell to get this campaign together, and deserve a lot more than just criticism over minor issues. Frankly, I think I deserve more credit than that too.

How can I get my boss, and the client, to give credit where credit is due?

Mr. D, Austin, TX

A First, you, as the team leader on this account, must take responsibility for communicating with your staff. Admittedly it would be nice, but your staff should not need to hear from the president that they did a good job. They will first look to you for guidance on their performance. In the future, you shouldn't hesitate to make clear, through an e-mail memo or in a team meeting, that you were happy with the way everyone contributed to the effort.

By that same token, you must also be the first to hear all criticism from the client and senior management in the firm. It sounds like you need to put in place some procedures that will allow everyone to dissect a completed program, and really examine the execution at every level.

These postmortems should not only take place between you, the president, and the client, but also between you and your staff. An open forum will give everyone a chance to talk about both the problems and the successes in a constructive way.

Q I'm an account executive for a large PR firm, and have been in PR for four years. Now that some agencies are hiring again, I have begun job-hunting like crazy. So far, I have only had a couple of interviews, but there was only one job that interested me. But I guess I blew it. During the interview, the VP asked me what were some of my greatest success stories in PR so far, and I showed him a number of great placements I'd secured for clients in several national magazines. When he asked me what else I had to show for my work, I didn't know what to say. I'm really confused.

How else should I have answered that question?

Mr. S, Chicago

A I'm no mind reader, but I'm guessing that the VP was hoping that you would know, after four years in the industry, that success in PR means more than getting great clips for your client. I know, I know - you have probably spent the vast majority of your time doing media relations, so those hits are significant. But you should be thinking about other ways you have benefited your clients. Maybe you have been able to cultivate a great relationship with a certain reporter who before was unreachable.

Or maybe you've helped a client reach an internal audience in a new way.

Start thinking past the clip book, to ways that PR influences and supports business objectives. Pretty soon, you will understand your role in that process, however small.

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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