Monday, December 20, 2010

Deliverables: The Main Thing?

"If you're so obsessed with deliverables, hire Santa!"

That's what I felt like shouting to a recent new client prospect (no. not the woman in the video above!) who could have cared less about my PR abilities, knowledge or experience. All this self-professed "geek" could focus on were "deliverables."

That should have been my clue for  to bail out. After all, I pride myself on avoiding corporate jargon in all communications. But the first paragraph of Wikipedia's entry on "deliverables" states definitively that "the word is considered corporate jargon." The Wikipedia writer knows the latter area well, having started the entry with this: "Deliverable is a term used in project management to describe a tangible or intangible object produced as a result of the project that is intended to be delivered to a customer (either internal or external)."

I felt better, though, when I read next: "A deliverable could be a report, a document, a server upgrade or any other building block of an overall project."

Ok, that was tangible enough for me. I proceeded to offer the prospective client a full list of PR deliverables, bullet point by bullet point:
  • press releases
  • bylined articles
  • pitch letters  
  • status reports
  • clip reports
  • timelines
  • media lists
  • tweets
And so on,. But I wouldn't offer press pickups as a deliverable, Ultimate coverage by journalists is simply out of my control, I explained.  "PR is an art, not a science."

In essence, I was asking him to trust me. "I'll provide the maximum effort and you'll get results," I promised, "but I can't guarantee those results in advance."

But the prospective client didn't believe in me that much.  He went elsewhere, probably to someone who promised him Oprah ("she must be planning a panel on Internet advertising for her farewell season!") and pickups in Google News and Yahoo (now there's an achievement!).

Perhaps he did hire Santa, a proven deliverer of deliverables. 'Tis the season, after all. But, truth be told, I don't really believe in Santa that much. What I continue to believe in are the intangibles of public relations. Work your media contacts to the max and you'll get results -- your story might not be great enough for The New York Times but you may have enough to deliver some key industry bloggers.

Well, gotta go now. I'm waiting for a deliverable from UPS, and the doorbell is ringing. Happy holidays!

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