Friday, May 19, 2006

Focusing the Wrong Way 

Sometimes clients get "hung up" and can't move forward until this press release, that white paper, or a pitch letter is exactly right. They labor over changes and drafts and redrafts and nitpicks and shades of meaning. They burn through agency time. Then, if and when they approve the document, they're shocked how large the bill is. You know who gets blamed.

Of course, the secret behind documents is they rarely have to be perfect. Few reporters quote them in their entirety, and as database documents on the internet, most people aren't able to grasp the subtleties in them.

So why do clients labor so? Time and again, we find they don't know what they want to do and a PR document is the instrument to help them find out. I have touched on this before but a number of events have sparked these thoughts again.

If you are a client, learn this lesson: At some point, move forward. There are instances where one cannot distill the essence of a company's positioning, what a CEO ought to say or a perfect description of a product or service. Internal politics intrude or events and/or structure get in the way. Learn to live with it, and understand that close enough works.

Agree. Sometimes, you definitely can be too close to the situation or project. I'm reminded of this everytime I see a crappy, self-serving news release hit the wires or make news.
Death by staffing - is what we in the military Public Affairs realm call this. We staff and staff and staff, then make correction after correction that in the end, we may very well have a product that is 5% more accurate, however, we've lost the timeliness of the message as well.

More often than not, just as Rifle Platoon Commanders are taught, go with the 80% solution AND be prepared to adjust fire.

We in Public Affairs need to adopt this practice more now than ever.

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