5 qualities to look for in a PR consultant
The relationship between a Public Relations consultant and client is a careful balance between trust, respect and brutal honesty. There are many types of PR professionals out there, and choosing the right one for you can be a challenge. While the ultimate goal for the client and consultant is measurable results in business improvement, both parties need to be able to have open dialogue on how to get there. When choosing your PR consultant, look for these qualities:
1. Demonstrates an expertise in the field.
When you’re speaking with consultants, do they actually help you understand how PR can help your particular situation; what PR strategies and tactics you can employ to raise awareness of your product; or why PR is vital in meeting your business objectives? Or after the conversation, do you just feel like a lot of buzzwords were thrown at you with no real answers? Look for a consultant that can bring clarity to your questions and not one that just offers lip service.
2. Stays current with industry trends.
Though you may not be an expert in PR, you can still have a basic knowledge to question potential consultants on their knowledge of current trends in the industry. Before interviewing a practitioner, check out some recent news articles about the field and incorporate them into your questions. The practitioner’s response will let you know if the consultant is up-to-date on tools that can benefit your business. Also, putting the shoe on the other foot, the consultant may not be an expert in your industry (yet), but he should display a general knowledge of what’s going on there and how to incorporate your business into the news.
3. Challenges your preconceived notions.
A child, however, who had no important job and could only see things as his eyes showed them to him, went up to the carriage.
“The Emperor is naked,” he said.
The Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, of a leader who only surrounds himself with “yes men” has always been a favorite of mine, especially in relation to good PR consulting. Beware of the consultant that too readily agrees with your ideas and is only too eager to put them in action. Look for a consultant that offers another option or view to the problem.
4. Shares your vision.
On the other hand, you still need a consultant that understands where you want to go. By human nature, we tend to connect with those similar to ourselves. The same goes in business relationships. When investing in a consultancy, it’s important to associate with someone who shares your values and vision but can also contribute fresh ideas. Seek the balance between a “yes man” and a consultant that rejects your every input.
5. Fits into your business culture.
Finally and overall, the consultant you choose needs to “feel right.” You may find a PR professional that looks great on paper, but when it comes to the in-person manner, you might just not mesh. You have to be comfortable with working with this person on a consistent basis, sharing and discussing problems, and developing solutions together. Seek a consultant that shows a thorough understanding of your business and is in sync with your objectives.
Finding the right PR consultant takes time and persistence, but a good working relationship is vital to your business’ success. Don’t settle for less than a great match. What do you look for in a consultant?