iStock_Checklist5A few months ago we participated in a client RFP. The first phase of their search involved an initial RFI with a lot of smart and detailed questions. There was one in particular we found especially impressive for them to include:

What are the top 10 things a client must do / have to be successful with PR?

“Well this is promising,” we agreed internally.

When prospective partners genuinely want to know what THEY can do to help ensure a successful program we all breathe a sigh of relief. It signals a partner who recognizes that investing in a formal Communications program is a commitment, not just in dollars, but internal resources.

We appreciated that they want to be smart about the whole process so sprinkled some advice on working with a Comms partner as well as what to expect on their end during the process. I warned them I was turning what we submitted into a blog post, so here you go: Continue reading


It’s been 16 years since I started doing this whole PR-Communications thing. I’ve worked for top agencies, gone solo and run in-house programs. I’ve worked with massive brands like Apple and HP to tiny baby start-ups. Industry verticals span from nerdy mesh networking and tech standards organizations to mobile to e-commerce, to consumer electronics, and on.

In May of 2012 the start-up I was working at shuttered. It was unfortunate but these things happen. I looked around and didn’t see one company I was ready to pledge my life to again – except my own. Within two weeks we had a name, emails, and our first paying clients.

I’ve learned a lot the past 19 months – many re-affirming prior business beliefs and practices, others lessons in management, and virtual working, to name a few.

For my first post for Radix Collective I decided to outline three key pieces of advice I have for anyone looking to go Independent – or dealing with clients in general.

Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away:

It’s OK. Really. You can say no. This is a difficult lesson for a lot of new entrants into the independent consulting world to learn – often the hard way. You’re starting to build your client base, someone shows up with money but it’s not an ideal situation, yet nothing else is on the horizon – so you take it. And it sucks. These situations never end well.

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HR vs PR. We’re not so different.

Attention Bullhorn Megaphone Sends Warning MessageAn address to my PR peeps.

Since taking the gig with BetterWorks I’ve been immersed in the world of “HR.” The deeper I go the more corollaries I see to the PR world. Never mind that “HR” and “PR” is just one letter off…

1) Don’t put baby in a corner: Just like PR, the HR world is fighting to not be put into the “I’m just for recruiting” box, read: “I’m not just media.” The HR world has expanded and is now in charge of many things beyond what they were originally known for, just like us. We’re all shoving our way to the table and, rightfully so, we belong there.
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8 PR Consultant Trends

Word Cloud "Marketing Communications"
A few years ago I commented about the mass exodus from traditional PR agencies as experienced pro’s left to start private practices. Most I talked with were tired of juggling too many clients and wanted to be able to conduct “PR” as they saw it – a role of communications strategy and not just “media relations”.

I’ve watched several friends go through this transition. I’ve heard about their new business pursuits, dealings with smaller naive clients, frustrations with being a one-man band, and much more. As they’ve found their footing and developed their practices some interesting trends have started to emerge.
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Hands-On Play Crucial to Problem Solving

Following my post yesterday my mother sent this in reply:

People also need to practice playing by themselves. I read recently how kids are losing their imaginations because the toys are too detailed. There isn’t room to create their “own” idea of what that car or fort or whatever looks like or what it will do. We become too literal. We need to be able to fill in the blanks with our own creations. Build our confidence so we’re not afraid to play out loud with others. To not practice self-censorship.

How do different cultures play? I know much is universal, but that would be interesting… Joyce Meyer’s was saying once how her son always was creative at playing. She said if she put him in the corner as a punishment it would be only minutes before he would create a game out of something on the wallpaper.

This reminded me of a story told at the beginning of Play and it’s one I’ve repeated numerous times to illustrate that hands-on play as a youngster, not digital, is crucial to problem-solving skills later in life. Continue reading

The Importance of Play in Business

When I worked at a PR agency and managed a large team I kept a box of playdoh in my office. We’d bring it out during client calls, team meetings, personal discussions and general time-outs. I brought Playdoh for a few reasons:

1) I like it.

I’m a fan of having “toys” around that help spark ideas within my popcorn machine. Playdoh is fun and non-messy and forms with your imagination. The things you can create are endless and it’s a good group activity, one-to-one or alone.

2) I wanted my team to PLAY.

Playing is something we associate with childhood but in reality we should never stop. Our forms of play may evolve but we always need it to be healthier and happier humans. Continue reading

The Demotion of PR, the Rise of Communications

An interesting thing crossed my desk last week. It was a corporate job description for, basically, what used to be a VP of Public Relations. The word used instead to describe the position? “Communications Lead.”

This copy relayed quite strongly that this company was not looking for a “traditional PR” exec or someone who thought like one. Media relations would be important but this was about something much bigger – customers, thought leadership, partner relations, to name a few. Continue reading

How to Prevent Social Media Entitlement Syndrome

(This article first appeared on LaLawag.com on June 24th and was co-written by myself and @melissarowley.)

In a day and age when sharing our stories, favorite videos, political views, product reviews, intimate moments, photographs, and random rants and raves across multiple digital platforms is part of our daily routines, our content is consumed at an unprecedented rate. Being accessible in real-time all the time can bolster our business and personal brands. That is the upside. The downside is the manner in which social etiquette is being increasingly bastardized in the Web 2.0 sphere because of a misplaced sense of entitlement and set of expectations our readers, followers, and Interweb friends have from absorbing the onslaught of our digital footprints. Continue reading

When the CEO Gets in the Way

An industry peer and I got to chatting about developments with a new start-up client at her agency. They are several months into the retainer and have worked closely with the CEO to develop their product and corporate messaging which includes presentations, web copy, marketing collateral and press materials, to name a few. She was lamenting how the CEO isn’t getting the kind of traction the company needs with their target market and the media.

“They just aren’t getting it,” she said. “What we’re saying is not resonating.” Continue reading