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
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.
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Pandora. E-mail her at email@example.com.