PR’s New Mission Statement

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In this classic clip from “Jerry Maguire” we hear about the call for less clients, even if it means less money for our business. But I think @TomCruise had it wrong. Less clients, combined with a more personalized approach to how we conduct our business, doesn’t necessarily have to mean smaller revenues if the process is done right. Here’s why..

There is a common theme to almost every new PR book that I’ve read over the past year: Understand what matters most to the influencers (reporters, bloggers, etc.) you target. The latest book that I just finished reading, “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations,” by Dierdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge) and Brian Solis (@briansolis) has several key takeaways about this changing world of PR that we’re living in. But one insight that I kept reading about, and continue to hear about, is how publicists need to take the time to understand all of their media targets, how they like to be pitched, what they write about, and so on. Not to mention that we’re expected to know our clients’ business inside-and-out. I couldn’t agree more. However, in today’s challenging economic conditions, this is easier said than done.

Whether you work at an agency or independently, there are more pressures than ever before to pursue RFP’s (requests for proposals) and accept smaller retainers in hopes of gaining new business and weathering this global economic downturn. Meanwhile, all of this is occurring with a U.S. unemployment rate of 10 percent and businesses hesitant to hire additional staff. What this means is that those of us who are fortunate enough to still have jobs have additional responsibilities. Many publicists work on five accounts or six accounts or sometimes even more than that. So we need to come up with a solution to how we can better ourselves, our situation(s), and take that extra time to personalize e-mails/calls and really understand the best ways to get results. We know that we can’t afford not to learn and to implement best practices, but at the same time there are only so many hours in a day and only a small percentage of the workforce that is actually passionate enough to do what it takes to better themselves. 

So what’s the answer to this dilemma? I certainly don’t have it. But as the economy improves and more staff gets hired hopefully it becomes possible to live in a PR world where employees are given the tools and the account flexibility to finally (better late than never) work towards creating more personalized relationships with the media AND with our clients. And as this occurs, we need to believe that this philosophy will spread virally and new business prospects will want that type of agency/publicist mentality working for them. No reason we can’t have our own Jerry Maguire moment and teach Bob Sugar how to get clients to “show me the money!”

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4 comments on “PR’s New Mission Statement

  1. part of the answer is to always understand your client’s priorities. focus on delivering in those areas or in/on those outlets, and you’re using your time in a smart way. of course not everyone will see *quality* as better than *quantity*, but the smart ones will. and those are the clients you want to keep.

  2. “these fish have manners”-hilight of that scene.

    I think you’re right, with the current unemployment rate, public relations professionals are spread increasingly thin with multiple responsibilities for multiple clients. I hope that with the upswing of the economy in 2010 (fingers crossed) the PR community will not only expand, but expand with enthusiastic individuals.

    I like to think that if you have that ONE Rod Tidwell/Cuba Gooding Jr. client, other ones will follow. But maybe I’m just being idealistic.

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