Fraser P. Seitel
Managing Partner, Emerald Partners
Author, The Practice of Public Relations
It used to be common for press to accept lunches and drinks from pr people. Now they won't even accept coffee. What gives? Nobody, least of all an “objective” journalist, wants to appear compromised. So some news organizations — The Wall Street Journal for one longstanding example — have policies that prohibit reporters from accepting anything, including meals. But many others do not. And there are still many reporters who don’t mind you picking up the tab. You should always offer to pay, especially, if you’re the one doing the inviting. But if the reporter insists, don’t make a federal case out of it. Common sense ought to prevail.
If I give an idea to new business client in hopes of getting that client, what rights do I have to get the idea back if they give the account to someone else? Very few. This happens all the time. Every time you part with an idea, you stand at risk of someone grabbing and adopting it as theirs. Often, that’s the price one pays for pitching business. Occasionally, clients pay for solicited presentations. But not always. So if you’re worried about theft of your ideas, then don’t offer them up until the client’s name is on the dotted line. The risk, of course, is that if you fail to deliver those “spec ideas” – the client fails to deliver his signature on your contract.