Don't be a Stooge

Features - Workplace Management Series

A PR professional offers her tips to avoid common marketing and public relations mistakes.

May 15, 2012

The guys I know were all looking forward to The Three Stooges remake, which opened in mid-April. They think Moe, Larry and Curly’s harebrained schemes, silly missteps and thwacks, smacks and blindside attacks are hysterically funny.

Heck, I don’t need to go to the movies for slapstick—I’ve got men in my life! (Kidding, of course.)

Everyone—yes, women, too—can be a stooge now and then.

Lifelong Stooges fan Alex Hinojosa, our senior campaign manager at EMSI Public Relations, says that if you watch enough of their films, you start seeing the characters’ personalities in the people you meet. And, just like they do on the big screen, the Moes, Larrys and Curlys of the world get themselves into loads of trouble. It happens all the time with public relations.

The Moe

He’s the client who knows everything. (So, why on earth did he hire public relations professionals?)

Moe will bark and bang and bully to get things done his way, even though he has never coordinated a media campaign, has never worked in the radio, television or newspaper industries and doesn’t know a tweet from a twit.

He’s the client who insists on rewriting his company’s media pitches because he thinks they should be longer and more detailed. (Succinct communications are what catch the attention of busy journalists and show hosts, but he disagrees.) He insists to his PR agency that his angle is much more likely to interest a talk show host, even though he’s never hosted a talk show.

Would you perform surgery on yourself? Moe would! And with disastrous results.

If you’re going to be a Moe, at least get a better haircut.

The Larry
Easygoing and passive, he doesn’t want to stir up controversy or offend anyone. No matter what the medium, he insists on appealing only to audiences and show hosts that already agree with his message, so he misses out on the opportunity to win over new fans—and their friends.

The Larrys also are easily forgotten. If they won’t do, say or write anything provocative during their marketing campaigns, they won’t engage with their target audiences, which means few will remember them.

A Larry tends to quietly go along with everything his public relations agency suggests. He doesn’t ask questions when he has them and he doesn’t contribute his ideas.

A Larry’s campaign may be a bit lackluster because he’s afraid he’ll bother somebody if he actively participates.

The Curly
He’s the star of the stooges—and he doesn’t even know it. The Curlys are the clients with great stories, powerful messages and a big lack of self-awareness. They ask, “Why would anyone want to interview me?”

In truth, everyone has a great story, and a PR professional will find it and use it. Nothing breaks my heart more than to hear someone tell me, “I was with an agency and I paid them thousands of dollars, but all I got was one mention in a weekly paper in Boondocks, Idaho. No one’s interested in me.”

What a cruel blow to a person’s self-esteem! PR companies that tell you “No one’s interested” are really saying, “We didn’t get results, so we’re blaming you.”

Yes, your message, the energy and interesting content you bring to the media and the quality of your service or product will determine whether you ultimately meet all of your goals. But don’t believe for a minute that no one’s interested in you. It’s simply not true.

From what Alex tells me, the actor who played Curly in the original Stooges, Jerome Lester Horwitz, was painfully insecure in real life. That led to heavy drinking, overeating and other self-destructive behaviors, which took a terrible toll on his health. He suffered a stroke in 1946, never fully recovered and died six years later at the age of 48. Such a sad end for a man who made so many people laugh.

The Three Stooges may make for great entertainment on the big screen, but if you want a successful media campaign, don’t be a stooge! When you’ve hired a team of professionals with a strong track record and plenty of years in the business, trust them. Let them do their jobs.

Be ready to participate in your campaign by asking questions, sharing ideas and providing any materials or information that might be useful.

And, remember, you do have a story that others want to hear. You’re no less important than the next guy. Don’t make me knock you over the head with a dead fish for you to believe that!


Marsha Friedman is a 22-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (, a national firm that provides public relations strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. She also co-hosts The News and Experts Radio Show with Alex and Marsha on Sirius/XM Channel 131 Saturdays at 5 p.m. EST.