Ask the PR Pro: Who should manage the PR firm?

When a PR firm is paired with the appropriate internal manager, there’s no limit to what can be accomplished. Since success in public relations depends a good deal on how the PR firm and client interact, it’s important to give some thought to who in the client’s organization will manage the agency.

Some traits of great PR agency managers include:

  1. Having a feel for what is news. Not everything that takes place in a company is worthy of taking to reporters. A manager who has a good understanding of what reporters are looking for can quickly sift through information and decide what’s important.
  2. Good at identifying trends. Since most reporters won’t write exclusively about one company, being able to identify how internal news fits with external events is important. Reporters love to tie in news with broader themes.
  3. Wired internally across many departments within a company. Information is the lifeblood of any PR program. A manager who is well-connected inside the company with sales, engineering, product development, research, etc. and is a good listener will be able to feed appropriate information to the PR team.
  4. Having the time. While a PR firm should work fairly independently, it does take time to meet regularly, provide direction, push through internal approvals and merchandise results. Since PR opportunities are fleeting, the manager must have the time to respond promptly to requests from the PR firm for information or direction.
  5. Having authority to make decisions. A good manager will understand strategic corporate goals and will have the authority to approve pitches and give direction without going through many layers of approval.
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