How to be a great PR consultant


Stephen Davies has kicked off a discussion about what it takes to become a great PR consultant. He’s published five tips for starters:

1. You should ideally have an interest in people.
2. Stay on top of the news agenda.
3. PR yourself
4. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes
5. Take each day as it comes

I can’t disagree with any of these, and they’re equally applicable to in-house PR as well. Most of the skills that an independent/agency PR consultant needs are the same as an in-house PR, the only difference being that the clients are internal when you’re working in-house. The exception to this is that independent/agency PR consultants need to also have an understanding of their own business model, revenues, costs etc.

Heather Yaxley has also followed up with a thoughtful post including her own recommendations and some “golden rules” from other sources as well.

It’s interesting that both Stephen and Heather have picked up on the importance of personal PR and the personal brand. In our business the way our personal brands show up, both offline and online, is vital in proving our professional competence. Yet all too often when I’ve been recruiting marketing and PR people I’ve been disappointed with how poorly marketing and PR professionals market themselves, both in the basics (a CV) and beyond (personal websites or portfolios, blogs, professional profile etc).
The only tip I’d add to the collected thoughts so far would be to have fun!

For me this is important for two reasons, the first of which is entirely personal.

I think I produce my best results when I’m enjoying my work – it makes me try that little bit harder to deliver the best results I can. For that reason I’m always careful what projects I take on. I make sure that whatever I do interests and challenges me. There’s always going to be more and less fun projects to work on, but it’s about making the overall balance fun.

The second reason why having fun is important is because it’s important your clients enjoy working with you. If you’re enjoying the work, and you ensure they enjoy your meetings/workshops/courses more than other similar ones, then you’re achieving an additional competitive edge.

If a client needs to choose who to work with from a choice of agencies, once they’re satisfied that all the agencies can do the job, if they enjoy working with you then that’s a big differentiator for you.