A few weeks ago, I polled business communicators through a number of LinkedIn groups to see what the oddest, wildest or most offbeat requests or assignments they’ve ever received from a corporate executive.
Here are some of the more interesting or outrageous responses from our communications colleagues out there:
- I was asked by a Vice President to write the comments for the inside of a birthday card for his wife.
- I was directed by the VP of PR of our company to write a college term paper on marketing for his boss’s wife (the paper was due the next day!).
- I was asked to develop and distribute a news release about a fictitious special board meeting and board vote to cover the board’s posteriors for a major mistake they had made.
- To meet a client’s request, I had to charter an airplane at 7 a.m. to deliver 50 press kits to a noon meeting at a location 400 miles away.
- The CEO of a client company asked me to write a card to his wife for their 35th wedding anniversary.
- I was assigned, as a junior internal communications staffer for a corporate division that had a new president coming in, to photograph the interior of the house he was buying, so he could send photos to his wife for their interior decorator.
- A friend was asked to find an elephant to rent, as the CEO wanted to make a grand entrance by riding into an annual sales meeting on an elephant.
- I was asked by one of my company’s vice presidents, who was to undergo open heart surgery the following week, to draft his obituary, so he could make sure it suited his tastes, in case the surgery didn’t go well. (He survived.)
- I once had a potential client come to me with a problem: an investigative reporter was doing a story about them. The client wouldn’t give me any information, and became confrontational with me as I tried to identify and address key questions and issues, but they still wanted me to make the whole mess go away. (I respectfully declined the assignment.)
- One colleague was required to wear a kangaroo costume at a trade show and pass out press kits promoting Australia — pulling the kits out of his pouch.
My favorite story involved a PR person whose client asked her to find some toy versions of a cute little South American bird chosen as the mascot for the company’s new initiative: “They wanted to us to find reasonable prices on stuffed versions of this bird to distribute to their team … I still laugh when I think about calling stuffed animal wholesalers all over the country to ask them if they stocked blue-footed boobies. After several awkward conversations, I did find them.”
That’s the great thing about the PR business, you never know what kind of assignment … or odd bird … is going to cross your desk next.
What’s the craziest or most outrageous PR assignment you have ever received?