As a former Boy Scout (okay, full disclosure: I lasted maybe one year…), the importance of “being prepared” was hammered into my head quite a bit when I was growing up. Honestly, it’s still probably one of the best pieces of advice anyone’s ever given me in life. Especially in PR, preparation is everything.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve witnessed how “being prepared” has helped my clients slam home runs in interviews, dodge sensitive questions from reporters, secure approval for special projects and form tighter relationships with TV producers. Sometimes as PR professionals, we focus so much on coming up with a great idea, getting the interview opp, or outlining the key messages we’d like clients to get across when they are being written about or filmed. But taking a really careful, comprehensive approach and spending just as much energy preparing our clients for these various scenarios is just as important (if not more so). Being prepared means thinking of all the things that could go wrong and having a solution at the ready…whether it’s a canned response to a dicey question or a back-up presentation in case a Web demo doesn’t go as smoothly as planned. Being prepared also means anticipating sources of anxiety for the client or the reporter / producer, and making sure everyone’s on the same page as to how we can avoid stumbles and annoyances throughout the process.
This morning, while staffing a TV shoot for a consumer client, my colleague Diane and I got a nice compliment from the producer we were working with. She smiled a big grin and said “Oh, you’ve done this once or twice before…” She was jokingly referring to the fact that we had all sorts of visuals already set up by the time her crew was ready to start taping – and honestly, from that moment on we hit a nice stride, working through minor hiccups and ultimately landing a successful shoot. The reason? Both our client and the producer recognized our team was prepared to deal with anything that popped up, and there was no need to panic when things didn’t go as planned. It was a nice feeling…made all that time spent on preparation totally worth it.