10 Clues Your PR Pro is Worth the Dough


One of last week’s posts – 10 Clues Your PR Pro is Nothing But Show – generated a lot of great comments that added even more clues to the list. So I thought we’d continue the fun by looking at the flip side and highlighting the things that set great PR pros apart from the rest of the pack.

Here are 10 clues that your PR pro is worth the dough. It doesn’t include the obvious opposites of the “nothing but show” clues, which means there are really 20 clues that your PR pro is worth the dough between these two posts. If you’re experiencing any of these from the folks on your internal team or from an outside agency, recognize their efforts and give them a hearty thanks.

1. They dive headfirst into your business and industry, and immerse themselves in learning every in and out within both.
2. They ask smart questions.
3. They are strong writers and great storytellers.
4. They proactively sync up with marketing, advertising, interactive and media planning to help create compelling, robust campaigns aimed at achieving your business goals.
5. They challenge you to step outside your comfort zones and try new things.
6. They know what they don’t know.
7. They are resourceful and create solutions to overcome challenges.
8. They listen as much as they talk.
9. They bring creative energy and a positive attitude to the table.
10. They own their mistakes, learn from them and put processes in place to minimize the chance those mistakes happen again.

What would you add to the list? What tips you off that the person across the table is worth his or her salt in this business?

*Image by Eric Ward.

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22 responses to “10 Clues Your PR Pro is Worth the Dough

  1. I would also add that they’re good listeners. That means that when they’re syncing up cross-functionally, they actually hear and then consider other viewpoints being expressed by marketers, advertisers and interactive folks. They know the best result comes from a team effort, and they’re not threatened by this.

    Thanks for a great post!

  2. Great post! I think everyone should print the list and post it where they can see it all day long!

  3. Good list… I’d add that over time your relationship with your PR people is generating results; the results you & they determined you were after. No campaign, release or event is perfect… But as a whole, there should be a feeling that their efforts are indeed working for you. 🙂

  4. I think David hit on most of the Top 10. The one BIG one I think you’re missing is “they deliver upon the results that they promised.”

    Besides isn’t execution the key to any successful business relationship?! And a PR firm could do each of ten items listed above but if they don’t deliver results…they’re done.

    Perhaps you made that assumption when putting this list together, but that is one I think needs to be included if not the most important:).

    Have a great Wednesday, David!

  5. I would also add, in relation to #5, that they tell you when you’re wrong and explain why you’re wrong. Too often we’re asked by clients to do things that, in the long run, would be ineffective to the campaign or detrimental to the brand. You were hired for your expertise, and, although you should always listen to your client’s input, sometimes you’re going to have to at least strenuously object if not say no.

  6. Great post! Need to make billboards of these and put them on the PR highway.

  7. Perhaps I’m a bit biased given my role, but I think agencies need to bring a measurement and evaluation mindset to the table. I think this might be what Matt is driving at a little, or even your comment regarding owning your mistakes, but I think we largely do ourselves a disservice when we aren’t talking to clients about measurement. Part of the problem is our clients (and us to a degree) have VERY lofty expectations and goals–some of which aren’t measurable, or at the very least are not attainable.

  8. Of course, great post! I would also add they complement the internal PR pro’s work and make them look good to their supervisors–rather than competing with them.

  9. Very nice list, David! I would add in two more:

    1. They’re not afraid of getting their hands dirty on the job. This goes back into having a solid work ethic. Regardless of what you may need to do or how many years you may have under your belt – if you have to help a PR campaign by stuffing folders at 2 in the morning at Kinkos or help direct traffic to your event, YOU DO IT.

    2. Don’t take yourself too seriously. If you find yourself making a big bruha-ha about what you do and say, then there’s something missing with you bring to the table. A good PR person should be able to rely on his/her work & street cred and just let that speak for itself.

  10. I agree with Matt Batt, the best indicator your PR pro is worth the dough, is whether they get the results in their original plan. Otherwise, this is a great list of characteristics of a successful PR pro.

  11. Nice post. I think another one would be “They will sometimes tell you what you don’t want to hear.”

  12. Any PR pro worth the dough is one that spends more time on reporting results than on reporting excuses.

  13. I agree with ‘themediapush’ about sometimes telling you things you don’t want to hear. Being honest and objective is so important! I plan to post this list and share with clients – nice work!

  14. Great additions!

    @Matt – I did assume that delivering results went without saying, but I probably shouldn’t assume things. Thanks for highlighting that!

    @Chuck – Couldn’t agree more that measurement needs to be well thought out and delivered. That was the opposite (the good side) to #5 on the “Nothing But Show” post.

    @Narciso – Amen to your #1! I worked with a young pro a couple years ago who had this problem. She was a couple months out of school and it was her first job. She made the following comment twice – once while stuffing press kits with a bunch of us and once while carry boxes at a major launch event:

    “I didn’t get my master’s degree to do this.”

    After the second time, her supervisor pulled her aside and politely set her straight.

  15. Love the know what you don’t know – a very classic Audrey line. And it’s so true. You can’t know everything so know when you need help.

    Oh btw- I referenced your blog when I lectured at Purdue today!

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  17. Great post.

    It’s definitely important that your PR firm shows genuine interested in your firm and their ability to be a great storyteller is key.

    I think another important element in any PR/client relationship is open communication on both ends. This will keep the relationship strong and help both sides understand the other better.


  18. * They’re not afraid to admit they’re occasionally wrong.

    PR is a very fluid process; sometimes you hit one out of the park, sometimes not so much. But your firm should be able to handle the ‘we missed that one’ or ‘we got that one totally wrong’ and quickly take responsibility and move forward.

  19. GREAT list! I love it, it’s honest, realistic, and empowering. I want to forward it to all my clients and say, see! 🙂 Thanks for the insight

  20. Great list. I’d add that they continue to keep energized and enthusiastic over the long haul. (I’ve heard too many stories from new clients that their old agency stopped caring after six months. We define a long-term client by the number of years.)

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  22. Hi David,

    Great list. I’d add something that’s sort of a variation on #10. Not only do great PR people learn from their mistakes, but they approach PR like “case work.” Like a detective, they learn something from each case they work on–whether it was successful or not–and can apply insights and ideas from their case experience to new cases (clients). This can even cross industries and apply to very dissimilar situations. I think that’s a sign of strength.

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