Have you ever experienced wanting something, but secretly believed you couldn’t have it, or weren’t worthy of it, and so it just eluded you, no matter what action you took (or thought you had)?
Have you ever had this experience with a client? You’ve done a sparklingly fabulous PR plan, got the campaign ready to roll, lined up the interviews, the events and the press coverage and your client is… in hiding.
What’s behind your client’s reticence (or even your own?)
Some people are naturally shy, of course, but for many others their fear goes back to a time when they felt silenced as a child, either at home, at school or by their peers. Maybe they were of the ‘seen and not heard’ generation.
Heard of Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome is that feeling of being found out and found wanting –that feeling you’ll be discovered and called out for being someone you aren’t. It affects 70% of us at some point in our lives, men and women alike, and generally hits the highest achievers hardest. The fear that others will think you a fraud is certainly enough to keep a client in hiding.
The challenge is that these feelings of not being quite good enough or the fear of speaking up can scupper even the best-planned publicity campaign. Why? Because if the client’s internal energy flow is blocked, then it won’t allow the external energy in the campaign to flow either.
Here’s an example: Some years ago, I was promoting a book for a colleague. We did lots of publicity work, but promises of interviews weren’t materialising, which puzzled me. Then my colleague admitted that she had reservations about talking on the radio; in fact she was really worried that she might get tongue-tied and sound stupid, and she had secretly been hoping that the radio stations wouldn’t invite her for an interview. The energy in my colleague’s desire not to be interviewed negated the energy put into attracting those interviews. In effect she was repelling the very publicity she sought for her book.
So what can you do to help your client come out of hiding, get their energy flowing and be comfortable with being visible, seen and heard? Here are some great questions you can use with your clients to find out just what might be holding them (and your great work) back:
‘What is important to you about … [your business/project, publicity, being visible]?
This is the most powerful question I have ever come across. It gets right to the core of what is driving your client’s motivation. Follow that up with ‘and why is that important?’ on each of their answers. They will come up with motivations and values that surprise them and are highly useful to you.
‘How do you feel about the campaigns you have run in the past and the tactics used?’
When you ask clients about their past experience of PR and publicity campaigns, go further and ask how they felt about the various tactics and methodologies presented to them. What you are trying to uncover here is where the client’s discomfort or fear is going to create resistance for you in executing the campaign. If they have at the back of their mind any thought or feeling that blocks their energy, it will block the energy of any work done on their behalf.
‘What are the consequences to you of all this coming to fruition?’
This is another great question and a good one to use when you present your campaign ideas to the client. For each proposed tactic work through the consequences – this should flush out any resistance, fear or reticence. Then, when you discover your client is terrified of radio interviews (but didn’t want to admit it), you’ll be able to address the problem, give them a confidence boost and get them on air.
Many of you will have come from a background in journalism so you’ll be used to digging out the story. Go deeper. Get to know your client’s deepest values, beliefs and fears. Be curious, ask elegant questions that deepen that relationship and elicit valuable information to help you be of service to them. If you ask in a manner of curiosity and real interest, it won’t seem invasive and the answers will be very revealing – for them as well as you.
Tina Bettison uses her lifetime of media experience to guide those seeking to find and express their true voice on the page, stage, screen or radio. She also teaches media people how to help their clients overcome blocks to being visible, seen and heard. You can contact Tina on firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her website here.
The Works Search and Selection specialise in placing mid - senior level roles in PR and corporate communications with some of the most exciting companies in London. Do get in touch if you think you're a highflyer looking for a step up or indeed if you need support with finding a hidden gem for your team.