How PR Can Perform Jiu-Jitsu on Sales Team Demands

IStock_000005170513XSmallIn my career I can remember countless occassions then the PR program was derailed by the client Sales team’s need for good news that they could take to their prospects.

“I know we agreed that we’d get the most ink for this announcement if we held off for a couple more weeks,” says the vp of marketing, “but the sales guys really need a press release in-hand for some upcoming meetings.”

So you get a cruddy ol’ press release used as sales collateral instead of a sheaf of fantastic 3rd party editorial goodies??  Never made sense to me.

(Then again, most of my “sales experience” was as a teenage telemarketer, selling frozen steaks to newlyweds and senior citizens, so maybe I’m jaded.)

Here’s the approach I suggest to clients when this situation arises:

First off, DO NOT derail the PR plan.  You’re gonna want ink; it’ll be better for sales in the long run.

Instead, arm the Sales team with a draft copy of the press release, stamped “NOT FOR DISCLOSURE” on top of the page.  They can use this to show their prospects that they are “in the loop” about the company’s great news before the rest of the world — making the prospect feel even more important… When the ink does appear a few weeks later, they can thump their chest about how “they knew this was coming.”

You’ll have created a BETTER connection with this approach, versus having the sales guy toddle into the prospect’s office with a release that’s already cold on the PR wires.

Worst case, the news leaks — and the release that your client was willing to give up on becomes a big deal, simply for having leaked from a prospect vs. via a more traditional channel.  Not a bad outcome.

Posted on: December 6, 2010 at 9:59 am By Todd Defren
7 Responses to “How PR Can Perform Jiu-Jitsu on Sales Team Demands”


  • BJJ says:

    I like it, Jiu Jitsu meets the PR world. Very smooth approach with the “DO NOT DISCLOSURE” idea!

    Thanks for that

  • Kris Beldin says:

    Todd- Great post, I like the idea because, as you imply, it’s a win/win. While the leak could net some good coverage, I was thinking that it would be important to clarify that “NOT FOR DISCLOSURE,” in this case, means, “you can show it to the client, but please don’t email it to your contact list, post it on your facebook page and blog.” Seems like this plan could really come off nicely with a savvy sales team.

    Thanks for the tip, good internal PR stuff.

  • Is deception (NOT FOR DISCLOSURE) ever ethically responsible? Does it reinforce to salespeople that deception is OK as long as the consequences–higher sales–are achieved? This doesn’t feel like the “next big thing” at all. Feels like the same old thing that has dragged down PR’s reputation for years. And that’s a bad outcome.

    • Todd Defren says:

      No one is being deceived. I am not suggesting arming salespeople with FAKE press releases; they are quite real, just not ready (yet) for release to the PRESS.

      In effect I am suggesting prospects get “insider” treatment; more and better access than the media. HOWEVER, I should have emphasized that – for public companies – one must be aware that this is not feasible for material news. I am not suggesting we engage in insider trading!

      And who claimed this as “the next big thing?” Not I. Just a minor tactic in a workaday PR program. If I’m held to the standard that every post must presage “the next big thing” I would post far less often. ;)

  • Risky but probably worth approach. In most cases, a leak is the most favorable of outcomes, I agree on that.

  • Emma Cornish says:

    I think this is a fascinating solution. Working as an intern in media relations for an athletic department, my office has been put in this situation. The “NOT FOR DISCLOSURE” idea seems like an ideal way to make all parties happy. Thanks for the post.

  • Surely we can now agree that no reasonably big news wouldn’t be leaked in social media channels before the release date. In some cases it can create even more buzz and an even bigger campaign. Then you get to call the blunder a clever PR metric, its a win-win.

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