Q: I think I'm just looking for validation or another viewpoint. I am the only PR person at my company, a company that did not believe or have PR before I joined almost six years ago. I've put this company on the map. We now receive feature stories, industry mentions, and really good press daily (USA Today, and top dailies like The Washington Post and the Dallas Morning News.) I've single-handedly done this, but no one at my firm appreciates what I've done.
When I put books of clips together and take them to a meeting to showcase my work, the books are ignored, and at times laughed at. Yes, I am trying to validate my existence and prove that my work is valuable to the company's bottom line. But since PR isn't taken seriously to begin with, I have a problem doing this. My company is dominated by male execs that have been in the same industry for years. Most fall into the Peter Pan syndrome.
I love what I do, but this lack of appreciation is a real issue for me.
Ms. W, Dallas
A: It's a shame your coworkers don't appreciate your fine work Many PR pros find themselves in similar situations, overworked and underappreciated.
However, your dark cloud might have a silver lining, that is, if you can muster up some support.
Evidently, the Lost Boys were open-minded enough to start a PR department and hire you, so perhaps they will be open to the idea of making room in the budget for the hiring of a measurement service. Measurement, done through surveys and media analysis, is an important asset to PR because it not only shows how successful a campaign has been, but it can demonstrate areas that need more work, and ultimately streamline your efforts and make them more effective. I recommend writing up a detailed proposal (if you have any back copies of PRWeek, check out Julia Hood's feature on measurement in the April 1, 2002 issue). In the meantime, good luck in Never Never Land, your efforts are not in vain.
Q: I'm an SAE at a small, but growing agency. My team handles a couple of accounts for which we provide, among other things, internal communications counsel. We have a good reputation with our clients in this area, but our agency does not practice what it preaches - not even close. In fact, our own employee communications is abysmal.
For a start, while we only have 18 staffers, few seem to have the slightest idea of the direction the agency is taking. And at least two AEs I've spoken with recently seemed unaware of a couple of our longest-running clients.
Furthermore, in the last year we recruited two senior execs, one of whom wasn't even announced until the day after she appeared. Rumors abounded as to why she might be here, and what was going to happen to certain people.
Worse still, we recently had an SAE leave to take up an employee communications post at a former client company. Unfortunately, it wasn't announced here until a few days before she left. but half of our agency found out from contacts and friends at her new company because they had been told immediately.
I know how internal communications should be done. I counsel clients on it all the time. I just don't know how to approach our busy president and convince him of the need to change.
Mr. C., New York
A: I know it's hard to approach an executive with a suggestion, but in your case, it is important. As you know from your clients, internal communications are crucial, especially at a PR firm. Try to schedule an appointment with your president. E-mail him with a friendly note, saying you'd like to talk about how a client issue relates to your company. You're not a low-level employee, and if your president is receptive, it could be the first step in the right direction.
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