Recently I offered a friend some help to get publicity for her fabulous new fashion label. I wanted to. I really like her and really like her label and although she is a creative genius and a fashion leader, I know she knows Jack about PR. She is starting out and I also know she has no money, so this is a total freebie. When it comes to ‘mates rates’ what are the rules?

In some ways your ‘charity’ cases make the best clients. They never hassle you and are always really appreciative whenever you get them something. And sometimes they can form the basis of training in a new area. I hadn’t done anything in fashion before, so this freebie is my way to explore the fashion media and make some new contacts. Who knows, the experience might even pave the way for a paying fashion client down the track.

A full PR campaign can be very time consuming. Our ‘freebies’ don’t expect the full service from us. We would normally spend about 40 hours on ‘follow up’ where we call the journalists, editors and producers to find out if they have seen our release and ask if they are interested in featuring the product, service or person we are promoting. The freebie might only receive eight hours of follow up.  And in this particular instance we actually brought the fashion designer in to our office and trained her to do some of the follow up herself. She used our lists and techniques, but used her own time too.  

As a small agency we can only take on two ‘freebies’ at a time. Learning to say ‘no’ is an important skill. If a friend asks for your help, and you are at ‘freebie capacity’ you need to be able to say that their timing is not good due to your ‘two freebies only’ policy but if one of these drops off you will let them know.  

Sometimes the person requiring your services is not a good friend, but an acquaintance or a friend of a friend. In these instances rather than do a complete freebie, we offer either a reduced rate (eg. we’ll do six weeks work for the price of four) or take a percentage of sales over the coming months in lieu of a fee. This sometimes works well when the publicity is sure to have a big effect on sales.

So next time you can see that a mate needs your professional services, lay out the ground rules, rack up the karma points, enjoy the warm and fuzzies and you never know, they may even throw you the odd gorgeous silk frock!

Have your say:

  • How do you handle mates and business?
  • Have you been burned?
  • How do you handle expectations?
  • Have you been able to make a real difference in their business?
  • Has it caused any problems in your friendship?