Line Up 2, a small, easy-to-learn game for the iPhone is one of my favorite iPhone apps for killing time. It’s a very simple game that requires you to locate 3 or more blocks of the same color next to each other and tap them. Simple right? Rows continue to pile on from the bottom and if the top-most block hits the ceiling of the game screen your game is over. As you advance in the game the rows pile on faster until you hit a certain score and then they slow down again. Additionally, the longer the chain of blocks – the higher the score. So if you see a very long chain forming as the rows pile on you have to determine if you should wait to get the most bang for your tap score-wise or if you should just tap tap tap along. And did I mention you only get a set number of taps per round?
This simple game is a perfect analogy for the PR pro’s activities.
Determining, on the fly, what client and firm objectives need to be handled immediately and what can wait (specifically if there’s potentially strategic advantage to waiting) is an art form that takes time and experience. There are, of course, some items that always rise to the top of the agenda, but even then other priorities can interfere.
Client deliverables (clip reports, tracking of hits, etc.) would usually be the first thing you’d want to get out the door. After all, the internal memo on what chairs should be ordered for the new desks can wait – that’s an internal deadline and we should certainly make the client happy first.
But what if those new desks are for the five new employees who are starting in two days and the client is a one of those rare breeds – a client who understands that things are sometimes late and can be pacified (stalled) with a quick email? Then the priorities change. Do you know the client enough to make that call? Maybe, maybe not. It doesn’t really matter for our purposes, the important part is to know what you know and to find out what you don’t know. A simple, “Which one should be done first?” with a quick rundown of the pros and cons to your supervisor should sort out the problem if you can’t do it on your own (or will catch heat for not asking). )And if you happen to be at a place of employment where you’d be scared to ask such a question – get out.)
Now then – do you contact the New York Times reporter first (who may not cover your client) or that highly focused blogger with great readership that definitely will? There’s always a tough question to be answered somewhere.
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