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RE: [prbytes] New with Question

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  • Ned Barnett
    Julia If this is a peanuts account (i.e., one that s too small to sweat - plus one you know you can t keep and wouldn t want if you could), I d suggest you
    Message 1 of 9 , May 27, 2008

      If this is a peanuts account (i.e., one that's too small to sweat - plus one
      you know you can't keep and wouldn't want if you could), I'd suggest you
      very politely, very formally, send them a registered letter stating that due
      to non-payment on their part, YOU are invoking the sixty-day clause.

      Then tell them that if they want the emails, they will have to sue you*, but
      make it clear that you're not going to violate your professional ethics on
      the whim of a FORMER client. Point out that nowhere in the agreement (copy
      attached) is there any mention of their right to have the emails, which
      would in any case be unethical. Close by saying that, since they refuse to
      pay on grounds that are clearly not part of the agreement, you intend to
      take them to Small Claims Court within ten (10) business days, unless
      payment in full is made.

      Then . you can either sue them in Small Claims Court or not - most demand
      letters are, after all, a bluff. If they actually do take actions to sue
      you (i.e., a demand letter from their lawyer), give them what they ask for
      (it's not worth the cost of fighting it, but you'll have the satisfaction of
      knowing that they had to pay a lawyer to do so). If you give it to them, I
      suggest you find a way of putting the emails and letters on some
      antediluvian storage medium (anybody remember Zip Drive disks? - or 3.5 or
      5.0 floppies?) - just for the sheer aggravation pleasure. It's like paying
      off an unwarranted debt with pennies (which are, after all, legal tender) -
      of course, it's also childish and petty, and you may decide that it's not
      worth the effort. You'd probably be right, but . wouldn't it be fun?

      Finally, once this is all resolved - especially if they do not pay and you
      decide to not go to Small Claims Court (though of course you can do both),
      file a complaint with the local Better Business Bureau. This is both
      legitimate as a means of trying to force payment AND remarkably satisfying .
      especially after they come back and try to get you to remove the complaint
      without first paying you.

      In short, get out of the agreement but don't roll over. Do whatever you can
      within both your personal comfort zone and the law to "encourage" them to
      pay what they owe you without demanding something that they never contracted

      A nice lesson - one I hope you'll remember always - is ALWAYS get paid up
      front. Nobody can withhold payment if they pay up front - because you do
      nothing to earn the payment until after the check's cleared. You're not a
      lending establishment, and you're not a collections agency - so why pretend
      that you're either, or both?

      Good luck.

      Ned (who's been there and done that . these lessons are hard-won . learn
      from my mistakes, not yours - it's a lot easier on the ol' peace of mind)

      Ned Barnett, APR

      Fellow in PR and Marketing, AHA

      Barnett Marketing Communications

      420 N. Nellis Blvd., A3-276

      Las Vegas, NV 89110


      <mailto:ned@...> ned@...

      <http://www.barnettmarcom.com> http://www.barnettmarcom.com

      From: prbytes@yahoogroups.com [mailto:prbytes@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
      Jules Zunich
      Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 1:21 PM
      To: prbytes@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [prbytes] New with Question

      Dear Ned -? I don't know you and we may never meet, but today you are my
      hero! Ridiculous is right and the comments that you outlined are exactly
      what I have said to them (and written more than once)...trust, integrity,
      relationship with journalists...they don't care. They want the list and they
      are saying they will sue for breach of contract for not providing it, plus
      every email in and out to those on the list. After I sent the first generic
      pitch (with notes on modification) the new manager flipped out and said I
      was hiding something. That was my first red flag. I tried one more time to
      resolve and then gave my notice. They asked for a 60 termination agreement
      so I would not bail. I agreed to a very detailed final report (just like the
      monthly ones I have been sending). They are withholding my 60 day buyout
      until I comply. Really, it's peanuts, as I slashed my fee to take this
      client as a favor to the other owner, but still, I would like to see the
      money they owe me and not get sued!

      What it boils down to is that they wanted sales to skyrocket after the first
      press release and they simply do not believe that any journalist would pass
      on covering their service, even though I gave them a 1 year plan to build PR

      Anyway, this group has been immensely helpful and I do appreciate everyone's
      notes and comments. Thanks so much!

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Ned Barnett <ned@... <mailto:ned%40barnettmarcom.com> >
      To: prbytes@yahoogroups.com <mailto:prbytes%40yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tue, 27 May 2008 8:45 am
      Subject: RE: [prbytes] New with Question

      You need a new client. This is ridiculous.

      Different people maintain different things as to media lists; most agencies

      provide them on request at the end of an engagement, but not during the

      engagement. Why? I had worked hard to get a client a 30-minute interview on

      a major Boston talk radio station - I had handled all the arrangements -

      then the client inserted himself into the prep discussions and pissed off

      the station, getting him "dis-invited" to the interview (a fact for which he

      blamed me, and helped me to lose the client . though in that case, good


      The point is - the client has hired you to handle their PR for them. Like a

      surgeon or a dentist, you are the professional and do not need their

      kibitzing .

      When clients ask for copies of emails, I develop a generic pitch, then send

      it along with the note "here's the core of what I'll be sending them . I

      will, of course, personalize this for each reporter or editor I contact, but

      this is the essence of the message." Then I tell them, after the fact,

      "this went to X-hundred media contacts ." In 35 years of doing this kind of

      thing (23 years doing it on the agency side), I have never had anybody

      question the truthfulness of my email count. Frankly, if somebody did, I'd

      take that as a clear sign that the account was in major trouble - I'd either

      try to diagnose and fix the problem or drop the client, depending on how

      deep I thought the rot ran.

      You've got a client who has a major trust issue with you - which has always

      suggested to me that the client is also untrustworthy. Trustworthy clients

      - who see progress -are not inclined to distrust the agency. Untrustworthy

      clients assume that everybody is as at-the-core dishonest as they are.

      I suggest this:

      Say to the client . "Here is a list of the media I contact on your behalf

      (give them the media names, but no individual names or contact information).

      You will note that there are 573 media outlets (use the actual number) on

      this list. Each time I pitch you, I send out 573 emails to these 573 media

      contacts. The emails I send out on your behalf are largely similar, but

      vary in detail as I customize them for each media outlet, reporter and

      editor, based on my dozen years of experience in knowing what they need. I

      will be glad to give you a copy of the "core" email pitch every time I pitch

      the media.

      "However, I'm not going to give you a copy of each of these 573 email

      pitches, each time I send out a pitch, and I'm not going to give you the

      names and contact information of the people who I do contact. It violates

      standard media/PR protocol (and generally pisses off the reporters and

      editors) for contact between agency and the media; it tends to muddle

      communications during the negotiation stage, and I've seen it cause the

      media to cancel their interest in a client and his story.

      "If this is a trust issue, you need to understand that I work on the basis

      of trust - I deliver a high-quality service at the highest level of ethical

      integrity; I earn my clients' trust and I expect that trust to be there -

      otherwise, I cannot negotiate with the media in good faith on behalf of my

      clients. If you find that you cannot not trust me, then we probably ought

      to end this relationship, as that lack of trust will tie my hands . and if,

      in your effort to validate trust, you start contacting the media to see if I

      really did contact them, you'll not only destroy any hope we have of getting

      you press coverage, but you'll also damage my reputation with reporters and

      editors . and no client's retainer fee is worth that kind of damage to my

      professional reputation."

      Something like that, modified to the specifics of your client.

      Of course, I'm an ethical hard-nose, and I have resigned clients who were

      unable to trust (or to deal honestly with me). Your price may vary.

      Ned Barnett, APR

      Fellow in PR and Marketing, AHA

      Barnett Marketing Communications

      420 N. Nellis Blvd., A3-276

      Las Vegas, NV 89110


      <mailto:ned@... <mailto:ned%40barnettmarcom.com> >
      ned@... <mailto:ned%40barnettmarcom.com>

      <http://www.barnettmarcom.com> http://www.barnettmarcom.com

      From: prbytes@yahoogroups.com <mailto:prbytes%40yahoogroups.com>
      [mailto:prbytes@yahoogroups.com <mailto:prbytes%40yahoogroups.com> ] On
      Behalf Of


      Sent: Monday, May 26, 2008 11:01 PM

      To: prbytes@yahoogroups.com <mailto:prbytes%40yahoogroups.com>

      Subject: [prbytes] New with Question

      HI - I am new to the group. My name is Julia and I have been

      practicing PR for about 12 years. I am currently an independent

      practitioner (contractor) with three very small companies as clients.

      Question: Does the client own the media list? If so, do they own all

      the information that went into the media list development? For

      example, am I required to provide copies of all email exchanges

      between myself and anyone on the media list. What about phone calls to

      those on media list? My client is withholding payment because they

      want to see every email that went out to "prove" I did what I said I

      did. I have not come across this before. It strikes me as paranoid,

      but maybe I am wrong? Any thoughts? Do I need an attorney to navigate

      this for me? This was something that they asked for after I started

      working for them, so it is not in the contract, but they feel that

      they were safe to assume that I would provide copies of everything.

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