In every industry, there are flacks and there are pros. I know “flack” is a word that holds a special designation in the PR industry, but it’s true everywhere. A flack doesn’t have to be a crazy, air-sucking bozo. A flack can also be someone who does just enough and no more. I call these people “box-checkers.”
In the PR industry, the opposite of a box-checker is the PR pro who’s laser focused on one thing – producing exceptional results. I love meeting these people and their teams. They focus on building relationships vs. buildinglists of media contacts. They care deeply about giving the right story to the right influencer to create the right impact to the brand. They share knowledge and insight vs. holding it close to the chest. They don’t accept vanity metrics and pretty reports at face value – they look deeper at the outcomes. They spend more time on strategy than execution, but pay close enough attention to the execution to optimize it along the way.
In other words, they give a shit about the PR.
Something else I’ve noticed about these kinds of PR pros – they genuinely believe there is always room for improvement. The most successful PR teams I see are that way because they fear they might be box-checkers. They worry that they’re behind the 8-ball on PR measurement, innovation, and modern best practices. They are curious and driven to always do better.
Here’s how you can see if your PR team (or someone on your team) is a real pro or just checking a box:
- Values quality over quantity, i.e., business outcomes of media wins vs. # of media wins.
- Spends more time working on relationships with media contacts and less time building lists of media contacts.
- Targets content vs. blasts content.
- Refuses to accept vanity metrics at face value, or at all.
- Constantly seeks improvement vs. claiming they’ve got it dialed in.
- Won’t automate something just for the sake of saving time – they have to see that automating a process actually delivers business value.
- Cares more about outcomes than outputs.
- Shares knowledge and insight openly vs. keeping it close to the chest.
- Seeks ways to improve or establish best practices vs. fighting new ideas and changes to existing process.
Brands that have a PR team that gives a shit – whether it’s an agency or in-house or a combination of the two – can feel it and see it. PR results aren’t celebrated outright, they are examined and discussed. Failures are discussed equally as much. Processes are always being tweaked and optimized. Knowledge is being shared freely and without having to ask for it. Transparency is a value. Real PR pros create continuity, so your PR program can not only survive, but thrive, in their absence.
Is your PR team made up of true PR pros or box-checkers? The difference and impact is wider than you think.