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What do you look for when looking for a PR consultant or agency? Most of us would imagine that we would want expertise in our area of work (technology, consumer products, hospitality, etc.). As a PR practitioner, that has always been what I believed companies were looking for when they hired. When reading about what a potential client would be looking for, information suggests that your area of expertise is high on the list. In this article on StartupNation, Beth Bryant, of the Public Relations Society of America’s Boston chapter talks about the importance of industry expertise. Not only is it key for your PR practitioner to have command of your company’s subject knowledge, but solid relationships with media of interest is also highly valuable.
This is why I was surprised when I recently attended a forum presented by my PR group in San Francisco, the PR Divas, where a panel of professionals discussed what they looked for when they hired a PR consultant/agency. Their top concern was not industry expertise, but trust.
Trust? This trumps industry expertise and results? Now that I think about it, it makes sense to me that clients would value honest feedback, even if it isn’t positive. They want to know what’s going wrong when campaigns aren’t working out, and why the media doesn’t love their story. The four women in the panel each explained that while industry expertise was a plus, it wasn’t THE deciding factor for them. More important was a connection with a sincere individual whose track record proved they would work hard and get results, while being upfront and straightforward. The women all admitted to being more likely to hire people they have worked with before or have past business relationships with. The paramount concern for them was to work with someone who would not only be successful, but also had a good working chemistry with them.
Understanding this makes me feel like I might take a slightly different approach to new business pitches. Although each client will vary on what they are looking for when hiring PR pros, it’s interesting that all four women on this panel valued trust above industry expertise.
Do you think a panel of men or a mixed panel would have different results? What’s your top qualifier when hiring a public relations consultant/agency?
About Our Fine Weblog
Welcome to Gearheads, the mostly official blog of Sterling Communications. Here, our best looking employees write about the influence of public relations on social media, web design, marketing strategy, and more. No hype allowed.
Topics of InterestAmazon apple attensity black Friday brand branding CES crisis communications Cyber Monday digital media Facebook Google+ Hemingway journalism LinkedIn marketing media media relations Microsoft Netflix pitching PR PR agencies press releases PR firms public relations rebranding reputation Search Engine Optimization Seattle SEO Small Business Saturday social media social media analytics solar Sterling Communications steve jobs Super Bowl technology trade show Twitter Web 2.0 web design writing YouTube
Sterling Tweets@sterlingpr: RT @DrRyo: Vibrating shoes use #GPS technology to direct #blind travelers http://t.co/8HWkANiYZz 19 hours@sterlingpr: .@larrymagid, from the same poll, 12% of teens don’t know whether their tweets are public or private. 1 day@sterlingpr: Big line forming for @MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor’s book signing! #ctia13 #MobileWave http://t.co/aE7w7k9Pk4 1 day@sterlingpr: Jim Donald, former Starbucks CEO, at #MedalliaBPF: Rocket science, brain surgery, nuclear physics—none as tough as dealing with people. 5 days
Our most prized awards are recommendations from clients, but these are nice too:
- PR SourceCode surveys IT journalists each year to discover the most respected public relations agencies and corporate communication departments. Sterling ranked second in the top 10 PR agencies
- PR News named Sterling Communications one of their ‘Top Place to Work in PR’
- The Business Journal named Sterling Communications one of the “Top 50 largest woman-owned businesses” in Silicon Valley
- The Stevie Awards, dedicated to woman in business, named Sterling Communications’s CEO Marianne O’Connor a finalist for the best entrepreneur in advertising, marketing and public relations
- Sterling Communications has won two SABRE awards for consumer PR campaigns, a Silver Award for the DoveBid campaign and a Certificate of Excellence for a NETGEAR campaign
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