CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q I'm an account executive at a PR agency with lots of consumer


I've only recently been promoted from junior AE, a job in which I often

dressed up in crazy costumes and took part in fun stunts for clients

(chickens were my particular speciality). My director keeps asking me to

take part in these events, saying I'm good at them, but I don't think I

should have to anymore. Surely I should be able to do more serious jobs

now that I'm an AE?

Ms. P, New York

A It's no fun to be swinging around in a chicken costume in 90-degree

heat, but sometimes you have to do what it takes to convince your bosses

that you are committed enough to the job to merit promotion.

I agree that it does seem like you have served your time in the rubber

suit, and it's a popular management ploy to flatter you into doing

something that isn't really part of your job. However, in the current

job climate better a job that involves running around the street looking

like a fool than no job at all, right?

Seriously though, the next time your boss suggests you don the beak and

feathers (or whatever ridiculous garb you have to crawl into), try

gently suggesting that your time might be better spent planning the

event and marshalling media coverage. Perhaps you can graduate to

accompanying the bird.

Q My problem is that my client (a marketing manager at a food company)

keeps insisting that I call reporters at every major newspaper and

magazine with these completely lame stories, like a new flavor of yogurt

or the appointment of a new marketing assistant. He seems to think that

I should be able to get coverage for anything and then blames me when

nothing appears. Help.

Ms. R, Denver

A Ah, media virgins. Early on in the career of any self-respecting PR

person is the moment when you realize that even marketing people just

don't get it sometimes. I remember a client (also a marketing type) once

asking me how much we would have to pay to get a mention in a trade



You are going to have to go through PR 101 with this man. He has to

understand the difference between what is achievable and what is simply

going to irritate journalists.

If you need to motivate yourself into doing this, just think of the

reporters who may remember you as someone who tries to pitch

time-wasting stories to them. It's very easy to get branded as an

annoying PR exec and this reputation could stay with you into your next


Sit him down and - under the guise of media training - explain who is

going to be interested in which story. (Hey, maybe you could bill him

extra for this sage advice.) If it's only two trade magazines, then

suggest that it makes more sense for you to maximize the time you spend

targeting these outlets than adopting a scattergun approach.

Bring in a more senior colleague if he's the type that needs to hear it

from a couple of sources to be convinced, but make sure that he walks

out of your office that day knowing that it's your job to work out which

media should be targeted.

If he wants to be in Fortune, fine. You should try to find ways of

getting into it. But educate him out of thinking that anything can find

its way into any media if the PR person tries hard enough.

- Got a problem that no one else can help with? Try Pandora. E-mail her

at pandora@

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