Who Are the Most Hated in PR? Answer: Idea Thieves

This post orignally appeared on http://www.commpro.biz

By Susan Tellem, Partner, Tellem Grody PR 

Writing proposals for new business is a challenge. Too little information and creativity, and the prospective client thinks you are dull and lifeless. Too much information and creativity, and your ideas may show up in a campaign that the prospect or another agency does without you.

In PR, that old saying couldn’t be more true: ”You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

We came up with a great idea for our client, a health and safety California nonprofit with similar chapters in all 50 states. We’d approach a multi-location discount store and set up aisles with everything that one would need in an emergency. It was great timing because Earthquake Preparedness Week was coming. After discussions took place with the store’s PR rep, we were thrilled when they even suggested co-branding some of the products. Our client was on Cloud 9.

Fast forward and suddenly things came to screeching halt. The company was the object of a takeover bid. Would our contact stay or go? Was our very cool idea DOA? Yes and yes.

At least we thought so until this week. During lunch with the client, she showed me a photo she took with her mobile of a billboard depicting our idea. It wasn’t our client, but instead a mega nonprofit who partnered with our friends at the discount store. They stole our idea. That sucks.

Is there a lesson to be learned? Should we copyright our great ideas? Conventional wisdom and many years of discussion about this topic and the answer would be no.

But I like this information I learned from Blair Enns said in a recent post on CommPro.biz titled, “To Hell With the Sell.

  • We will replace presentations with conversations;
  • We will diagnose before we prescribe; and
  • We will re-think what it means to sell.

What do you think—should we stop giving away our ideas for free?

###

Susan Tellem is a partner in Tellem Grody PR, Inc. and now talks in 140 characters. Tellem Grody Public Relations, Inc. (www.tellemgrodypr.com) is a public relations/social media marketing agency founded in 1994. Though the agency has served many clients from a variety of industries, it specializes in health and science, entertainment, consumer product and crisis management.

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