The 'ruthless application of common sense' or 'how to run a PR firm'


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The 'ruthless application of common sense' or 'how to run a PR firm'

  1. The ruthless application of common senseorhow to run a PR firmDavid Brain, CEO Edelman,Asia PacificMarch 2011<br />
  2. No great books on business management have been written by PR people, We are traditionally crap at it. We rise to the top of the PR agencies by being good at PR not management. Then we get given an office, with people, clients and a budget. And that’s when the wheels come off. Which is a shame, because running a PR business is just about the ruthless application of common sense and is a far simpler thing (intellectually at least) than formulating advice for a client in a crisis or finding a creative way of giving a dull brand some interest and competitive differentiation.<br />I have run practices, offices and regions for three of the global PR brands and two small independent companies in both EMEA and Asia Pacific and the wheels have indeed come off once or twice. They probably will again, but if they do it will not be because I made the mistake of thinking this was a complex business model. PR agencies are simple businesses. They have inside them often difficult people doing some (occasionally) clever things, but they are simple businesses. <br />Here are my top tips.<br />
  3. save the clever strategising for your clients<br />
  4. ideas that work for a PR business of 2,500 people will often not for an agency of 30 people – filter out the crap from head office<br />
  5. deciding what you are not going to do is as important as deciding what you are going to do<br />
  6. when you are deciding what to do - focus on what your clients want and need and your people can do and like doing – please no gap analysis<br />
  7. don’t buy a dog and then bark yourself – hire the best people you can; train, mentor and support them, but never micromanage<br />
  8. salary benchmarking is the work of the devil – hire, promote and pay people on talent and value - if you stick to benchmarking and salary banding your best will leave and the dull, feckless and lazy will seek you out <br />
  9. Darwin was right…the fittest do survive, so over-hire at intake and junior levels and be honest that not all will make it (the survivors will raise the standards of those above and around them)<br />
  10. always know your future revenue (so you must know how to value your pipeline)<br />
  11. keep total staff costs to 55% of revenue <br />or below<br />
  12. no sandbagging – you can hide revenue and ‘surprise’ me once……after that you are insulting me<br />
  13. zero base your cost budget each year<br />
  14. if you have steady or increasing revenues, making appropriate margin is only a matter of will power<br />
  15. and making an appropriate margin is a matter of self respect<br />
  16. be the best at at least one thing – excellence in one offer or specialism will rub of on the rest of the firm<br />
  17. have a point of view – on media, society, community, business, politics, culture, whatever, but for god’s sake have a point of view<br />
  18. nurture your sixth sense – whether paranoiac or paranormal<br />
  19. don’t bury your head in the sand – it’s always best to make the right decision of course, but sometimes you just have to make a decision<br />
  20. size matters – because an office of scale can specialise and clients value more highly specialist knowledge and skills<br />
  21. …client conflict is a given, how we handle it is our choice<br />
  22. get serious about digital<br />
  23. growth is not an excuse<br />
  24. never under estimate the motivating powers of alcohol…whatever it takes run a happy office<br />
  25. no assholes<br />
  26. no gunslingers<br />
  27. walk about more<br />
  28. …always give me good news on a Friday, bad news on a Monday - never, ever the other way around<br />