Common Mistakes: Having a Bad Publicist

I decided to write about this subject to answer a question on Facebook about word of mouth versus having a publicist. I have always thought that the best publicity is word of mouth. If you are doing a great job and you have an original talent, most likely the word is going to get out.

However, in these times of constant media and omniscient press, having a great publicist might be the best investment you could make. It’s very simple, every time your name or business appears in print, TV or online you gain credibility–much more than paying for an advertisement.

I have spent a small fortune doing many years of business with publicists, and I can safely say that I have had good and bad experiences. Here is what I’ve learned:

Good publicist

  • Someone who gets results at least once a week. (An article or mention.)
  • Publicists who target publications your clients are reading–not just any publicity. (A mention in the wrong publication could be harmful to your brand.)
  • Publicists who give you realistic expectations.
  • Publicists who write well. (They should be able to capture your voice.)
  • They should be available to you. (If they have too many clients, you might slip through the cracks.)
  • And, this is more of a personal preference, but I think it ties into what could make a good pulicist: I prefer working with one person rather than a large PR firm. It makes me feel better connected.

Bad publicist

  • Be aware of any publicist who promises you the world to get you as a client.
  • You should never feel as if they are doing you a favor.
  • Crazy makers. (I have had my share of these. )
  • Publicity is a lot about who they know. If they are first starting out and have limited contacts, be careful.

There is no question in my mind that being a good publicist is one of the most difficult jobs around. The sole reason is because this is a job of hits and misses, there is never any guarantee. At the moment I am blessed with having Laura Goldberg as my publicist. What I love about her, aside from the great results she has already accomplished, is her amazing knowledge of our industry.

What has been your experience with publicists? Do you have any do’s or don’ts to add to my list? Also, if you are a publicist, tell me one thing you think every client should know about your business.

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  • Phyllis Cheung

    I have worked with a publicist in the past. I can’t stress how important it is to follow through on your promises to your clients as well as being responsive to phone calls, emails, and appointments.

  • Andrea @ Superfine Bakery

    Hi Preston, I can’t thank you enough for answering this question. I’ve been investigating my options and have had an initial call with the wedding PR experts at Be Inspired PR in Manhattan Beach, CA and NYC. In that conversation we talked about the ratio of glamorous placements (TV, magazines) vs. the percentage of leg-work on my end maintaining a blog, tweeting, keeping up with FB, and building peer, client, and vendor relationships. It’s about 10/90, and I think though we wish it were more glamorous, it’s realistic. I really appreciate that kind of honesty. It’s too easy to ride off the rails when you’re surrounded by Yes Men, right?

    The most effective free PR I’ve applied so far is kindness. Kindness to clients, vendors, peers — even the competitors. Great things come of kind gestures, so I respond quickly and reach out as often as I can. Thanks, Preston!

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  • Keshia Johnson

    I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for the useful information yougive. I am in the process of trying to start my own wedding and event planning company and your tips are very helpful I must say. Thank y7ou for remembering to pay it forward.