PR People (Should) Say No… or Should They?

A short while ago, I stumbled on a blog post titled Creative People Say No  and before even getting into the post’s content, the title had my attention. Particularly the “no” part.

It got me thinking about our fascinating, dynamic industry of PR and Communications.

Please forgive the sweeping generalisation I’m about to make, but go with me on this for a sec… As PR consultants, we are trained to be YES people. We say YES to clients and YES to colleagues and YES to media… YES, YES, YES, YES.

It’s lovely and positive isn’t it?

Well, not for the poor sods stuck in the middle saying yes to everyone. It’s bloody exhausting and can be awfully stressful.

But why do it?

PR remains the ugly step child of the marketing industry, despite the fact that it is often the most genuinely capable, creative and impactful marketing tool (if done right). It continues to carry a “spin” stigma of years gone by and gets plugged into the last 10 minutes of group agency reverts, if you’re lucky! Despite the fantastic talent, skills and expertise that exist within the PR industry, ours continues to be the discipline that receives the smallest budget allocation (when compared to our cousins in Advertising, Media Buying and other disciplines).

But whose fault is this?

PR’s! Because instead of consulting, too many consultants just say YES. Instead of truly valuing their time and skills enough to confidently consult on requests, all too often they simply just say YES and flounder around trying to keep everyone happy.

This leads me back to the blog post I mentioned earlier. The crux of this post speaks to the value of time and how being over-extended completely ruins productivity and creation. It also implies that a PR consultant’s time is not really worth much.

So what’s my point exactly?

I’m not suggesting that PR people should all suddenly become NO people. Not at all! If anything, this little reflective exercise has highlighted for me the real need for intelligent consulting on all matters related to our work, as well as the edge that working for FleishmanHillard provides.

It’s up to every PR consultant to set the standard at which we as an industry are held.

Working at FH, we do value our time. As an agency a lot of focus is placed on delivering the best results to clients, while ensuring the best possible balance for staff. When we value our own time enough, we are able to confidently consult to clients (and media and the rest) on work that is truly going to deliver the value we promise. Sure, we endeavour to maintain our passion and “can do” attitudes – this is something that will always set us apart from the rest. But at the same time, we focus on always providing expert consult, with assurance in the areas that we claim to be experts.

It’s OK to say YES. But it’s also OK to say NO sometimes – and draw a line when requests are not within scope, will not add value or will just not be an appropriate use of your time.

We work in an exciting and challenging industry. We do impactful and meaningful work. So value your time and consult with confidence.


Written by Tameron Carneson