Yesterday, I received a call from a very well-intentioned individual who was looking for a very cheap speech. She was willing to pay $100. Through her eyes, I would have been making damn good money for that hour-long speech. What she failed to realize is that I spend hours preparing. I declined, by the way.
Hours later, I received an email asking me for a free social media consultation. It was from an organization that I had never heard of or worked with before. I also declined that "opportunity."
Incredibly, last week, I received a call from the associate of a former co-worker, who asked me to detail a process I came up with in a former job. Yes, you read that correctly. I went directly to the mirror to see if I had the word "sucker" tattooed on my forehead. I was seriously annoyed.
My friend Sheila Scarborough actually has a talk called, "NO, You May Not Pick My Brain, Freelancing in a Freeloader World." I am beginning to see why. Lisa Barone covered the phenomena here in Outspoken Media.
Since I am a benevolent Princess, I'm going to give you some FREE advice on how to ask a social media, public relations or marketing consultant for advice or pro-bono services.
- Know the person: Ideally, you should already know the person you are asking. Without that personal connection, your request may not garner much attention. That's not to say that the person won't have lunch with you.(hint: recruiting these smart PR pros for your advisory board is a good start)
- Personalize your request: A nice introductory email with an explanation of what your organization is looking for should be sent directly to the PR Pro. (Hint: don't assign this task to the intern, it should come from a manager, the higher the better)
- Offer to pay up front: Don't expect to get anything for free. After you describe your project, offer a flat fee for the services you're asking for, and if the public relations professional can help. If they can't, ask if they know who might be able to help.
- Know what you want: Once you meet with the PR Pro, don't waste their time. Have a really good idea of the timeframe of your project and what the desired outcome is. Have any relevant internal discussions beforehand, so there are no surprises later. Please don't use me to settle an argument, or worse, referree your inter-office argument.
- Be open to new ideas: If you already know everything, then why are you asking me? If you have already closed yourself off to sugggestions, critique and new ideas, then you don't need me.
- E-intros: Please don't e-introduce me to people and offer my brain to people I don't know. It'll be painfully embarrassing for you to be rejected, too.
- It's a time thing! I barely have enough time to do my paid work now. If I had more time, I'd be spending it with my family.
- It's not personal, it's business. My favorite line from You've Got Mail.
I'd love to have your feedback. Please leave a comment.