Too Big Not to Fail

Soho Grand Hotel – Scene of the Pitch

I had about an hour to kill between my breakfast in Soho yesterday and my next meeting. I decided to stroll over to the second floor lounge of the Soho Grand Hotel to grab just one more cup of coffee and dash off a few emails.

Before too long, I couldn’t help but overhear a very loud and self-assured man putting on the big sell to a well-dressed couple.

“We work with them all,” he boasted.

“I can guarantee that we will have you on with Jon Stewart, Charlie Rose, GMA, and CNBC…a couple of times.”

My ears perked. Was this a PR agency pitching a new client prospect in a most open and public venue? I couldn’t exactly determine what the client did to merit both the affections of “The Daily Show” and “Good Morning America,” but it sounded like the prospect was another Wall Street-themed film documentary poised to debut on the Web.

If you followed my Twitter and Facebook streams yesterday, you heard in real-time how the pitch progressed:

“Bloomberg, AP, Reuters, Fox Business, Andrew Ross Sorkin…we can get you these tomorrow.”

It appeared the client prospect was taken in by the fact that this senior executive could actually rattle off the names of these top-tier outlets and journalists. Me? I was tempted to walk over and ask the guy if he even knew who Hilary Kun was — Jon Stewart’s supervising producer. I refrained.

I felt a little sorry for the filmmakers who were clearly new to the process of retaining a PR firm. They were being won over by a most hyperbolic pitch. You heard of “Too Big to Fail?” Well, this was “Too Big Not to Fail.”

“We do social too,” the exec boasted. “Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin…we do them all.”

Hmmm. No Google+? At this, I finally deduced the name of the agency and decided to check the activity of its Twitter stream. Its followers numbered in the hundreds with an equal number of those being followed.

The senior exec finally acknowledged his female colleague who sat demurely opposite him throughout the pitch. “She’s the best in the business,” he crowed, but offered little room for her to demonstrate this assertion. The meeting was winding down. Money was discussed.

“It’ll be $40,000 for four months, “ the agency exec explained.

“We’re entering the holidays. Does the engagement start right away?” the filmaker asked.

“No. We’ll use the next few weeks to draft materials and build a media list, then start in January.”

Hands shakes all around. The agency woman finally had a chance to talk, but it was about her three children, including a newborn. They said their goodbyes. The filmmakers hung in. They were staying at the hotel.

In retrospect, maybe the firm did have the mojo to deliver on the promise. I guess we’ll just have to come back to the hotel’s lounge in April for the post-mortem.