For the past couple of months, I’ve been battling severe bronchitis. My lungs were on fire. My throat was closed shut. My voice was gone for weeks. And I was about as productive as Congress on a deadline.
To wit, I was forced to catch up on binge viewing and some trashy TV. As I was filling my body full of enough drugs to make Rob Ford jealous and filling my body my all sorts of trash, I was
enjoying just watching dregs of society looking for their 15 minutes of fame (while using 12 of those trying to figure out how to speak a coherent sentence).
So, one good thing came of out this mid-morning experience — 5 PR lessons all flacks can learn from Maury.
1. Know Your Name. Where in the blue hell do folk come up with these names? I’m not talking about the just-dropped-acid-and-named-my-kid-in-Hollywood names. I’m talking the flat-out abuse of the English language and please-call-child-services-on-these-fools names. Your clients all represent names as well. They should know them inside and out — the meanings of the names, the promise of the names, the legacy of the names. If they can discuss the genesis of the company, there’s a good story there. And that story could be the beginning of so much more if you handle your PR properly. Otherwise, people will have more questions than answers.
2. Test Before the TV. How many times does Maury offer the dramatic pause with the word “NOT?” Baby daddies jump up like they scored a touchdown. Baby mamas hurl themselves on the stage like someone shot them in the leg. Your clients would be no different if you don’t do your homework. Before the results or the interview, you need to know what could happen and plan accordingly. What if the reporter flubs your client’s name? What if your interview gets bumped? It’s all about preparation. Do your homework, explain all options and there are no surprises.
3. Know Your Audience. I realize I am the only one in PRNewser land that has watched Maury, so I’ll just ask, “Where do they find these people?” What casting call from hell does Maury Povich’s producers put out to find these rejects? I mean, it is a great thing to understand how to locate your demo, but dang! I saw one that was something from “Triplets who all have the same baby daddy.” Someone needs to get a day job. And speaking of day job, that is what PR professionals need to do better than clients — know the audience. You are pitching to the media, not them. You are representing them in public, like them. You are responsible for proclaiming the brand in places they can’t, which explains the monthly check you get. If you can’t recite your client’s audience, go back to the DNA drawing board.
4. Expect the Unexpected. “[Whatever the heck your name is], you are … NOT … the father.” People wait for that phrase with baited breath. It has become the punchline for many jokes and the stuff of legend to see the response (on YouTube, no less). What happens if you are open to hearing that note following the DNA results? What about your client? What if your client is sitting in the middle of an interview and a pop question comes up? Does your client freeze, shart, scowl or roll with it? Why worry about that — plan for it. You should prepare your client for every possibility during an interview. That way, there is no surprise and reason for angst. No, if an interview scheduled to go 1:30 goes five minutes long, then dance like Maury just told you that you are not the father. See? There’s that joke again.
5. Be the Same Backstage. So, the nerves are up, the audience is stoked and the results are in. Maury shares with the world that some chick’s baby is denied a father for the seventh time and then what happens? The woman has enough strength to wail, moan and scream, and then run faster than Usain Bolt to the backstage couch. Why not flop on the floor like this Harvard graduate in the picture? It’s because although the DNA results screwed up the next few months, she is still on TV and needs to pour it on a little. PR peeps have the same issue with journalists — if you are fun-and-yuks over the phone, don’t try acting all serious in person just because your client is in the room. Be yourself. You’ll be respected for that. Not to mention, your client is watching too.