MP&F’s Top 25 PR Questions

July 30, 2012

McNeely Pigott & Fox is celebrating 25 years in business during 2012, and one of the ways we’re celebrating is by answering the 25 questions we are most asked about our business. 

Question 8: What do you mean you wrote this? Why isn’t your name on it? (the inevitable questions PR flacks will field from their parents) 

By Elizabeth Elmore

Mom and Dad were financial wizards. This was as close as I got to following in their footsteps.

I come from a family of financial wizards. My grandfather is a tax attorney, my aunt is a tax accountant, and my parents met while working at a Houston bank. While I did not inherit their financial genes, I happily graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in public relations and international marketing. I moved to Nashville to begin my career at McNeely Pigott & Fox.

While the folks are proud of what I do now and are even more proud that I’m not living in their basement, eating their food and watching reruns of Dawson’s Creek, I’m still not sure that they really understand what it is that I do to pay the bills. MP&F’s “Top 25 PR Questions” series seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to afford future young PR flacks a little advice about how to address a question that they will inevitably get from their parents and friends: “Why isn’t your name on it?”

As a staff associate in The Cave here at MP&F, I was eager to dive into client work. Not too long after I started at the firm, I exemplified what I like to refer to as “refrigerator syndrome.” I emailed my parents after a guest column I worked on ran in a local newspaper. I was proud and wanted them to know that I was getting things done around here – and they should hang this piece of work on the fridge! Of course, the response I got from my dad 90 seconds later quickly diffused my feeling of satisfaction. It simply said, “What do you mean you wrote that? Your name’s not on it.” Talk about a downer.

Crushed! Couldn’t he see that I had crafted an amazing column and had successfully pitched it to a reputable newspaper in town on behalf of a client? I realized I needed to respond with a bullet-proof response to help my parents understand that I wasn’t a “spin doctor.” Although I can’t recall what I wrote them that specific day three years ago, here is what I would respond with today:

Dad,

Recently, one of our relatives was entering the world of online dating. He shared his profile with us and asked for feedback. My writing skills came to the rescue to help him craft a message that accurately represented how awesome he is and that any woman would be lucky to date him. Not that his original bio was untruthful, but it simply didn’t express his best character traits clearly enough. And that’s not surprising – he works in a very technical, math- and science-based profession.

So, I sat down and helped him rearrange and tweak his original message to more accurately reflect his (and our) opinions of his personality. Did I make anything up? No. Did I include anything he wasn’t comfortable with? No. Was he thrilled to have help better communicating his thoughts? Yes.

This is similar to what I do every day for my clients at MP&F. Each client has a different goal it wants to achieve – whether it is selling a service or tickets to the public, influencing legislation, garnering support around an issue, or handling a potential crisis – and my team takes those goals and creates a game plan to achieve them. Many times, this means sharing thoughts and opinions with the public and/or recruiting community members who have similar sentiments to do the same. We help clearly communicate messages to those audiences.

So, you are right. My name is not on it – and probably never will be – but I promise that this is equivalent to a gold star on a piece of refrigerator artwork or a thumbs-up from my boss. My efforts help a client tell a story more clearly, more effectively and more persuasively. My name isn’t on it, but my fingerprints are all over it.

Love,
Elizabeth

Although I’m still not sure whether he completely buys into it, Dad seems to have finally gotten used to the fact that not many of my work successes will be refrigerator-ready and more than likely won’t have my name on them. I guess all is well, though, as long as I’m not asking to move back home.

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