The six types of PR professionals are: leaders, inspirers, creatives, synthesisers, galvanisers and project managers. Which one are you!?
Of course, you may be more than one simultaneously (or think you are…). And to some degree, the typology above will be reflective of your career journey. Equally, however, I’ve known practitioners straight out of university in their early 20s to, indubitably, be leaders and inspirers. And on different days of the week and, indeed, different times in a single day we may need to wear different hat ‘types’.
At our core, however, I’m interested to hear what you think about the types I have identified, what characterises these types and what I have missed out on, got wrong and, hopefully in some cases at least, got right! Please comment at the end of the post!
Leaders in PR – showing us the way
Clearly, leaders lead through their behaviour, not what they say or how they say they’ll act (e.g. walking the talk). Otherwise, in my books, they aren’t really a leader.
A grandiose title and being in charge of lots of employees doesn’t bestow leadership upon a person, at least not in the ideal (which sounds unrealistic but I’m actually being absolutely pragmatic, as walking the talk is about the most pragmatic thing to achieve results a leader can undertake) and useful sense I am concerned with.
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One of the most powerful characteristics of a leader is that they can be trusted. They follow through on what they say they will follow through with and they treat people with respect and, where appropriate, confidentiality. This trust will be founded, hopefully, on the fact they actually care about those around them – about them as people as well as the nature and quality of their work.
Leaders will always give public credit to those who they collaborate with and not claim undue, or unbalanced, credit for themselves. Sharing this credit and recognising others empowers people. And it reflects well on the person who shares this credit.
Conversely, the leader will protect those who report to them, standing up for them as appropriate in difficult situations.
Inspirers: the wings of an eagle
Leadership, obviously, will inspire people. As will those who are creative and produce stellar business outcomes. As will those who are effective collaborators.
Perhaps inspiring others is an inherent quality of truly effective leadership. But I think it’s worth calling out as being a particular type, too, as so often our activities outside of work and the way we deal with these challenges can inspire those who know us, whether they are colleagues or not.
The way we behave, therefore, just like with leadership, is the ‘platform’ on/through which we inspire people.
In a professional context, one formidable way of inspiring people is by seeking to achieve, and actually achieving excellence. These are two separate things. In many cases, the seeking is vastly more important than the destination. This restless, relentless striving to achieve the best we can be is where we exhibit what sort of person we are.
The only fail is failing to try, I tell the boys I coach at football – and it is equally applicable in the professional world of public relations and business.
Creatives – at the heart of PR
Well, where would we be in public relations without the creative types! Sure, all of us are capable enough to come up with the odd good idea, but there are those who are absolutely characterised by this quality. And they definitely do not always seek to lead or be the big boss.
I’ve seen this quality manifest itself time and again in the PR agency environment. It is an absolute winner as a characteristic to have in this context as new business pitches are won and lost on the creative dimension. (I see this as a far more critical element in winning business than agency reputation or rigour.)
And if you’re in an agency which doesn’t win new business, in turn the agency will fail and you’ll be out of a job.
It’s a quality I particularly value in in-house practitioners, too, but it doesn’t materialise in this context as often, at least in my extensive experience. In-house practitioners can be mechanics, doers, project managers etc and do this admirably and successfully, without necessarily needing to be particularly creative.
It would be expected, however, that even the most plebeian meat and potatoes type (another type?!) of PR pros will add some creative value to, at least, the process of undertaking the work, if not the nature of the actual project/task itself. It may not be as glamourous as the ‘big idea’, but innovation in how to actually get the job done can add much value, including saving time = saving money.
Which leads us neatly to….
Synthesisers – the hidden geniuses of PR
Maybe I should call this type the ‘creative synthesiser’, as that’s what I mean. Synthesisers take creativity from whatever sources input ideas into a project/topic/etc and value-add through two means:
- Coalesce the divergent ideas into a seamless, integrated whole which takes the best out of each contributory shard to produce an holistic masterpiece
- Value-add through building on the creativity which has been offered, adding new ideas and coming up with further, compounding (‘viral’, if you like) notions which, once again, help devise an holistic masterpiece.
This is an underestimated type of genius, in my view, and is in many cases founded on an ability to collaborate effectively and understand the genesis of many of the ideas which have been suggested. That way, going to the roots of the various creative ‘shards’, our synthesiser protagonist has access to the mother lode of inspiration at the core of the ideas.
Of course, as we can be a superficial lot, sometimes understanding the genesis is entirely unnecessary. It could be the creativity is resulting in a fabulous launch party and its the glitz, fizz and absolute fabulousness of it all which prompted the compelling value-adding and its integration into an holistic masterpiece.
But enough about me.
When putting together this dichotomy, I pondered the entrepreneur as a distinct type. But then I decided it is perhaps this is similar enough to the galvaniser to group them together.
I think every PR practitioner needs to be entrepreneurial to some extent, not only those who work in mid to higher levels of PR agencies or in in-house leadership roles (though I recognise you could cogently argue the case for inspirers being in the same boat).
And I think there are different enough qualities between the galvaniser and the project manager to make it worthwhile flagging both as unique types.
The galvaniser recognises the creativity, sees the opportunity, then takes a stand to pull all the potentially wayward strands together. It’s an important role. And it is one which good managers (aka leaders in another guise) are experts at.
Project managers make sure the job gets done. It takes rigour, intelligence, people skills and discipline. Creativity is not necessary, but without these PM types we’d be lost. We all need to be a project manager at times, but to tell the truth I wouldn’t particularly fancy to be categorised as one myself.
I’m afraid my ambitions are greater than this. So accuse me of being hubristic, then, as in this case I may well be guilty as charged.
What specific ‘types’ of PR practitioners have I missed or inappropriately called out as a specific type? Do you have examples of how the types noted have manifested themselves in your career?
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