What Matters Most In a PR Practitioner?

Today, I was thinking about what matters most when it comes to PR. If you’re considering PR for your company, product or service, what should you look for in a PR practitioner? Of course, there’s always a great deal of debate about what qualities and credentials are most important. Here’s what I think matters most: passion.

Is your PR practitioner passionate about:

  • Your business?
  • Getting you coverage?
  • Helping you understand the process?
  • Keeping up with current trends and tools in the PR industry?

There are a lot of choices when it comes to PR, as with anything else you might hire an expert to help with. Credentials and experience matter. But if the passion is lacking, it’s going to be tough to get where you want to go.

For those of us who are truly passionate about PR, we eat, sleep and breathe it. We can’t even turn it off when we’re at a restaurant, because we notice typos in the menu! When we watch TV, we have to comment on the ads–are they effective? When we read a magazine or newspaper, we wonder if the headline could’ve been worded differently to attract more readers or if our client might be a fit for this reporter’s beat. When we see a posting about an event, we notice the date is missing. We can’t help it. It’s just part of our DNA.

Ideas strike us at all hours of the day–and sometimes, even the night. I’ve had dreams about how to help clients that have led to a new story idea to pitch. I’ve taken a walk that spurred an idea for a publication we could try pitching. I’ve been reading the Sunday paper and noticed an article that led to a great idea for a blog post for a client. Many times, when I’m least expecting it is when an idea will come to me for new ways to help my clients.

So you may be thinking, “This all sounds great, but how can I tell if this person is truly passionate about PR?” To help you evaluate your choices, here are real-world examples of this passion in action:

  • Your PR pro should have a passion for spreading the PR “gospel”: Do they frequently speak on PR, helping others learn about its power and how to put it to work for them?
  • Your PR pro should have a passion for helping small businesses get on the map: If they own their own small business, as do I, they understand the challenges and rewards involved. A practical, no-nonsense approach is what works best, because as all small business owners know, we don’t have time for the extras.
  • Your PR pro shouldn’t always be focused on the clients who can pay the most: Does your PR pro love PR so much that they charge reasonable rates? And do they often help out non-profits on a pro bono or in-kind basis? I usually have at least a couple of organizations I’m working with on a pro bono basis at any given. I truly enjoy working people who have a passion for what they do AND express their appreciation my help, so those are the folks I tend to gravitate toward on these projects.
  • Your PR pro should have a passion for specialization—but also see the bigger picture: There are many firms who claim to offer it all, from marketing to advertising to events to PR, but do you want to skim the surface? Or do you want to work with someone with specializes in getting your name out there? While it’s a good thing to work with a PR pro who has some experience or background in more general marketing, you may want to stay away from those who claim to do it all—because they may not do it all well.

Let’s face it, there are plenty of folks just phoning it in these days in professions across the board, but those with passion stand out. So, evaluate your options carefully and look for the passion–if it’s missing, it might be wise to look elsewhere.

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