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How to get ahead in PR

2nd May 2013


I have worked with some great PR personalities; I have worked with terrible PR personalities, and with many who are indifferent. But what surprises me is just how successful the truly bad characters are.

Why is this? How come the evil boss I worked for ten years ago has not been convicted for his heinous crimes, but is instead running his own successful PR agency? 

Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out that being negative is not going to get you far in PR, but one would hope that relying on misplaced confidence, rather than talent, would lead to failure at some point? Yet I bet you can think of a leading PRO who is known more for their terrible media gaffs than their media triumphs. But with no noticeable dent to their income.

So here are my thoughts on the three top qualities to nurture if you want to be as well-known as Max Clifford (I don’t care if he’s really a publicist, all I know is that he’s famous and did the PR for Shilpa Shetty and Celebrity Big Brother. You try Googling PR guru, and see if any other names come up that you recognise apart from the hardly edifying Niira Radia):

1. Be an egotist. Don’t focus on your clients, think "me me me". You are never going to get noticed just because you make your clients look good. Reflected glory is far too faint. If the media needs a spokesperson, put yourself forward. The more famous you get the more clients you’ll have, without even trying.

2. Flatter journos madly face to face. Of course social media has transformed PR and a lot of communication is done online, but the PROs journalists turn to first are the ones they like the best. So take them out! Get them drunk! And above all, use flattery.

3. Work hard. Unfortunately, my last quality is not going to be your favourite. It certainly isn’t mine. There is no escaping the fact that those who are most successful work bloody hard. You may have a lovely personality, and craft the most beautiful prose, but talent will only take you so far. Start early, finish late. I have never known a successful PRO who was a slacker.

This is all assuming you are extremely attractive of course. We all know that looks are everything in this industry of ours.


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