Well technically they want to hire our employees. It’s that time again when the big agency sharks start circling, looking for talented fish to prey upon. Which surprises me given the type of clients those agencies represent don’t really, in my opinion, require true PR talent. Still the sharks hunt and occasionally swim into our nets. So I’ve decided to take the high-road and offer my friends at WaggEd and Edelman some helpful tips to growing their own PR people. I’m taking the approach of the Chinese Proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. I’ll consider this my good deed for the month in the spirit of helping the larger PR community.
Power to the People
At BPR we believe in empowering everyone and we acknowledge that everyone has great ideas. Unlike behemoth PR agencies, we encourage our teammates to talk in meetings, unrehearsed – shooting from the hip. Our AAEs do not need to seek approval from an AE, SAE or VP to say something. See – that’s where we are different. Those agencies like to bring in their bigwigs with faux-fancy titles who know next-to-nothing about the account (I think you call that high level?) and prop them up to speak in client meetings, shoving the actual brains of the account (I think you call them junior staff?) in the corner. But the only way the “fauxs” sound like they’re in the know is because the brains gave them the 411 prior to the meeting and have done 99% of all the real work. First word to the (not so) wise: Empower your people to do more than coverage track and you’ll reap tremendous benefits.
Rejection Builds Character
Another reason our people are much better than their people is because their people don’t know what it’s like to run into editorial brick walls. It’s a humbling experience that builds character and requires strength and strategy to overcome. So remind me again, when was the last time those people pitched a product or company that didn’t have a pre-established brand or category? I mean really…how hard is it to pitch Microsoft or Starbucks? Second word to the (not so) wise: Stop milking off the global-brand teat and challenge yourself with a startup for a change. Don’t be afraid to roll up those designer sleeves.
The Bitch Factor
We abide by a strong “no bitches policy” at BPR. No one pulls rank on another teammate. If a BPR AAE has an issue with an AE or SAE, guess what? They deal directly with that person. That’s right. We don’t allow people to sit in ivory towers and feel a sense of entitlement because of years experience or what letters are in their title. Third word to the (not so) wise: You really should be aware of the bitches – they’re a bigger problem than you think.
My older brother Mike along with a few other Lieutenants in the Seattle Fire Department oversee Medic 1- the elite group of paramedics that make Seattle one of the “best places to have a heart attack in the country” due to their advance lifesaving skills and response time. Imagine if any one of those medics showed up at an accident or shooting and didn’t know how to start an IV or do CPR? Okay, so admittedly I’m a bit over the top here, but not teaching your people to write or requiring them to write press releases and other media facing documents is pretty ridiculous. “What? Everyone at BPR writes?” Yep, we do. Shouldn’t everyone in an agency be capable and skilled at writing? Seems like one of those PR prerequisites. Fourth and final word to the (not so) wise: require your people to write.
Speaking of writing, I sent a note to Pam Edstrom and Melissa Waggener a few weeks ago about our hands-off agreement. Before posting this, I waited long enough to give them the opportunity to respond. As you can see they’ve been eyeing my team for several years. Here is the note I sent them:
Okay my good deed is done and I have to get back to doing real work – client work. ‘Cause even with my fancy title I still do PR. Crazy, huh?