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
Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try
Pandora. E-mail her at pandora@ prweek.com.