CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q: I work for a mid-size IR firm. Recently, the CEO of one of the

companies we work for and I were both on a media call to a major

business publication. The subject concerned poor earnings that the

company recently posted. I tried to get the CEO to do some preparation

with me for the call, but he said he didn't have the time. When we

actually got on the call with the reporter, which was done over speaker,

I found he wasn't really ready to field the questions. He took long,

awkward pauses at some points, and I found myself having to answer some

of the questions for him.

The big problem is that the reporter quoted me almost as often as she

did the CEO, and the CEO's own comments were not great. Both the CEO and

other senior executives are very annoyed about the result, but I truly

believe that it is not my fault, and had he only listened to my

suggestion about media training, he would have come off looking much

better. How can I get this client to understand that?

Mr. A, Albany, NY

A: It is extremely unlikely that you will be able to convince the CEO

that it was his fault he came off badly in the interview. Why even try

at this point? The damage is already done. You need to try and move the

discussion forward, to use this negative situation to make a serious

case for media training.

Set up a meeting with him to discuss the problems in the interview and

get him to articulate exactly what he thinks went wrong. Come prepared

to give examples of how a little time spent in media training has helped

other CEOs respond to reporters' questions effectively. That way you

will demonstrate both the value of training, and reinforce the fact that

media savvy CEOs know they must prepare for major interviews.

If that doesn't work, or if you find you can't get the ear of the CEO

because he is just too damn upset about the whole thing, swallow your

pride and apologize. After all, at the end of the day it is really your

job to convince your clients that your services are worthwhile.

Had he valued your opinion from the beginning, you wouldn't have a

problem now.

Q: A local business organization is offering a course on financial

communications that I really want to take. I have asked my supervisor

for permission, but she said that there is no room in the budget for

those kinds of "extras" right now. The course costs $795 for two

days. But I really think the skills I would learn would be incredibly

valuable for my clients, and for my career. We are also not doing a lot

right now internally in the way of staff training, so I really want to

learn new things when I can. How can I convince her that the expense is


Ms. G, Phoenix

A: One unfortunate side effect of difficult economic times is that staff

development can sometimes go by the wayside. But there is nothing wrong

with having to prove that a particular course is worthwhile, even when

money is not a problem. If you can point out specific clients that would

benefit from your having a better understanding of financial

communications, and why, you may be able to convince her. But if she

still maintains that the firm cannot afford to send you to the sessions,

you should ask if there is a senior staff member who can spare the time

to give you some training. Make sure you can point to solid examples of

client needs to make your case.

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

Pandora. E-mail her at

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