In PR, you’re gonna be working with a whole lot of startups. Your clients will invariably think their idea is the greatest thing since short pants. They’re wrong. They’re fools. They’re nothing. They’re nobody. They’re scum.
However, they get the idea in their heads that they’re too good for some media. I’ve had “problem child” accounts refuse to do blogs with 50,000 readers. “Not enough to command my time and energy”, they say. After a few years in the PR industry, I’ve developed a few tricks to deal with clients who don’t follow my lead.
One client who I’ll simply refer to as Human Garbage told me he wouldn’t do a podcast interview. “Who’s gonna listen to it?” he said. Like a kid who won’t eat his broccoli, I knew I had to fool him into doing the right thing.
I waited till his wife went on a yoga retreat that didn’t allow cell phones, then that weekend I got a burner phone and immediately made a frantic call to his home residence claiming to be a kidnapper. “Your wife is being held somewhere near the mountains outside Stockton. We will release her only if you do the TechHappenin’ Podcast”. Sure, I more or less had to wipe the tears out of his eyes, but you bet your frequent flier miles I got him on there. I had to make a few more calls as “the kidnapper” to assure him his precious spouse was safe and not to ever mention this to her, but he definitely saw the value of the podcast interview after.
Take It Into Your Own Hands
When startup chief “The Grotesque” (not his real name, obviously, even though it should be) refused to do a feature in a techblog that would have lead to bigger media requests, I knew that it would only take a little convincing. I invited him to cocktails at one of San Francisco’s finer watering holes, and when I distracted him by yelling “look, Andreessen is here!” I dropped a little “suggestive” dose of Klonopin in his drink. Over his slumping body, I assured the bartender I’d get him home safe.
From there, I took his keys and drove to him to his house. With my client dumped on the couch, I had a guaranteed 12 hours of unconsciousness. I was able to find his passwords, access his computer, and write the featured column about his business as him! When he woke up, he didn’t know what happened, but he did know the value of taking all media opportunities when he saw his inbox.
“What happened last night? Did I have too much?” he asked
“There’s no such thing as too much publicity” I replied.
Sometimes you’ll get the worst of the worst. A client who’s so full of himself, and also unmarried, drug-resistant, and stubborn! Only then should you go the full 9 yards. You better be patient, cause this one takes a few months,
Start by causing friction among his friends. Make one believe that another spread some awful rumor about him, then at the next investor meeting or launch party, engineer things to make them see each other. Trick them into hurting one another. Cause a series of resentments that leads to the isolation of your client once all his friends have divided amongst themselves, then spread your own “anonymous” rumor that he’s done something terrible. Maybe he ran over a kid in ’08 and paid the cops to cover it up, but really it’s up to you! It’s a creative business, after all.
Start spray painting “RAT” and “MONSTER” on his garage to convince him the world has turned against him. Once he’s a blubbering mess, completely cut off from society and feeling as if the world chose at random to swallow him, you can strike! He’ll be amenable to any suggestion, whether it’s a hashtag campaign, an interview, or a paid content feature. The chain of retaliation will truly bind him to you!