Q: I've just been asked to supervise preparation for a large RFP
that our agency is pitching for. It's a great opportunity to work with
one of our directors and it could get me onto an account that will see
me pitching major media. However, it's a last minute pitch and I would
need to work over an upcoming weekend - the same weekend of my
boyfriend's sister's wedding. Which should I opt for? And if I go to the
wedding, how do I explain it to my boss?
Ms. T, New York
A: Your decision hinges on a number of factors. If this is the first
time you've been offered such a lead role, I would think very carefully
before turning down the chance to shine and show yourself off to the
director. Not to mention that the experience will teach you to handle
the pressure associated with a visible project.
But perhaps there's a way you can do both, while attracting brownie
points for being so efficient. Could you work extra hard the week
preceding the wedding, or perhaps work remotely or for just part of the
We may be heading into tougher economic times, but something tells me
we're never going to return to the crazy, work-is-everything ethos of
the '80s. If you explain the situation to your manager, he or she is
almost sure to understand why it is reasonable for you to want to go to
this wedding. Add that you have a plan for making sure the job gets
done, and you'll be seen as effective and flexible.
Q: I joined a college as PR manager a few months ago and have been
working on a plan to increase its profile. The problem is that the plan
rests on our professors being available to the media. But whenever I
suggest this, most of them say they have no time to talk to the press.
How can I persuade them to join in?
Ms. P, San Diego
A: The plan will never work unless you have high-level backing, so make
sure you've got a senior administrator to publicly support the scheme.
You could also feed this senior person some examples of high-profile
colleges whose fame benefits everyone who works there, and more
important, show how these schools attain their visibility.
Once you've got the support established, then look at addressing
individual resistance. Target the egos of the individuals concerned by
pointing out their expertise and showing them how they could have
contributed to recent media debates.
Stave off any fear of the media by offering media training for anyone
who feels they need it (and for those who don't, too).
Then draw up a list of your best spokespeople for particular subjects
and start circulating it to major media. But stay flexible. You are
likely to get the best results by staying alert and taking advantage of
the twists and turns of the news agenda.
You may need to get hold of your spokespeople during the evening or
weekend if you want them to comment on a breaking news story, so make
sure you have home and cell phone numbers for them. Alert them to this
possibility well in advance to save yourself the embarrassment of lining
up a professor to speak to a journalist only to have him or her refuse
because it's out of work time.
- Got a problem that no one else can help with? Try Pandora. E-mail her
at pandora@ prweek.com.