Few things strike fear in the hearts of PR pros more than an urgent email from a client requesting a time-consuming project…that’s due in two hours…with no additional budget to complete. In honor of Halloween, we’ve compiled a list of the scariest things that a client could utter, along with some quick tips for avoiding the fallout that can follow.

“We didn’t agree to pay for that.” It’s not uncommon for objectives and deliverable to change mid-project, requiring work that’s outside of (or different than) the original scope. When that happens, it’s best to quickly address how new requests will impact hours and budget. Send estimates and revised project parameters and get them approved in writing. If time restraints prevent going through the standard purchasing protocol, even a quick email approval is better than nothing.

“Get me on The Today Show.” I was thrilled when Oprah went off the air. Why? It was every single client’s dream placement, and nearly impossible to get. Of course, that won’t stop a great PR agency from pitching an exceptional new product, an engaging subject matter expert or an innovative angle on an evergreen story to the hottest broadcast show du jour. But it’s important to set realistic expectations with clients.

“We need a viral video.” It’s impossible to guarantee that a video will “go viral.” Viral is a thing that happens, not a thing that is. But it certainly helps if the content has a high enough cool factor that viewers just have to hit the “share” button.

“We won an award six months ago. Let’s write a press release about it!” If the goal is to generate media coverage, let’s not. If the goal is to spread the word to employees and other internal stakeholders, evaluate the best vehicle to deliver the news. Perhaps a post on the company intranet or a shout-out in the weekly e-newsletter is more appropriate? And, like the media, people will care more about the news if it is shared in a timely fashion

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