When to avoid publicity

Publicity opportunities may arise that cannot help you. In fact, they could hurt you or place you in an awkward position. When a chance for media exposure teeters on the edge of your expertise, walk away-fast. Invariably, you're looking at a no-win situation in which you may have to bluff or repeatedly say, "I don't know." Broadcasting even the implication that you are uninformed or not up to speed is poison for a consultant and not worth the risk.

Don't accept an opportunity when you lack adequate time to prepare for it. Again, you risk coming off as being poorly informed. Don't take a chance when you feel uninformed on the key points that are likely to be raised. Also consider whether to appear when you haven't rehearsed your presentation or have not had time to find out about the interviewer. Most media members will try to make you look good. However, a few have agendas and have built their careers on demolishing guests. So think twice about going forward when you don't know enough about the person you're dealing with or you're on shaky ground with the material.

Cautiously respond to requests for comments on your clients' business. First, it's not your role; you are a consultant, a secondary source, and if they want reliable information, they should go to the source. Second, as close as you may be to your client, you may not know everything about that particular situation, including your client's plans and motivation. Your answers could be wrong and might embarrass or jeopardize your relationship with the client.

Also avoid media opportunities if you have had insufficient media training. Frequently, this occurs the first time that you must give a press conference on negative or damaging developments. Prior to new situations, get help; call in professionals. Don't go it alone.

The glamour of publicity can be alluring, especially when your past efforts have been successful, fun, or both. The temptation to repeat past successes is hard to suppress, and publicity efforts can provide a welcome break from the unrelenting pressures of your practice.

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