Q: I am launching my own PR firm in a few months and I can't think
of a name for my agency. I have run through thousands of different
possibilities, and I've asked for everyone's advice. I really want to
come up with an original name, something that will reflect the
personality of the firm, my creativity. But will that put clients off?
And how should I come up with this name, anyway?
Ms. D, Knoxville, TN
A: Choosing your agency name is as great a responsibility as picking
your own child's name. I phoned a couple of experts in uniquely-named
agencies for help with your question. Peter Shankman, CEO of The Geek
Factory, a firm that is known for its offbeat approach to PR, says he
chose his agency's name primarily to vex his parents.
But Peter later found the name to be a very useful litmus test for
potential clients. "Clients who didn't like it or who would freak out
about it, we probably wouldn't want to work with anyway," he says. "If
you're going to have a problem with the name, you'll probably hate the
fact I'm telling your clients to jump out of an airplane."
Elaine Cummings and her two (female) partners were prompted by a contact
to name their firm Eastwick Communications, a sly reference to the novel
The Witches of Eastwick. "We didn't want a string of last names that
would sound like a bad law firm," says Cummings. Elaine adds that you
shouldn't be afraid to take risks. "I think it can help you stand out
from the pack. You can have humor without being too frivolous about
It's not easy to advise you on how to cultivate inspiration, but it will
help to write down some of the core qualities you want your firm to
embody, and think up words that depict those qualities. And don't ask
too many people for advice. As Elaine says, there is always someone who
won't like your name. "At some point, you have to go with your gut."
Q: I just graduated from college and took my first PR job with a small
agency this summer. The firm specializes in public policy work. One of
the things that they told me in my interview is that it is really
important to stay on top of the news, particularly out of Washington.
But I am finding it really tough to digest all of the material that I am
supposed to read every week. I manage to get through all the newspapers,
magazines, newsletters, and stuff, but I get so overwhelmed with
information that I don't seem to retain anything. Then when people
discuss current events in meetings, I flounder and can't contribute
anything to the conservation.
Can you give me any advice for keeping track?
Mr. E, Arlington, VA
A: If you plan to stay in PR, you will need to make friends with the
printed word. It does not help to view your reading as an endurance
Try writing down a few brief details of the most significant news
stories as you read them. Don't take too much time over this, just jot
down three or four words that will remind you of the story's
As the weeks pass, you will see more clearly how the story develops,
because you are making a connection to the article both visually and
through your writing. Eventually, you may be able to abandon the note
But you may find it valuable to keep it up.
Going into work just a half-hour earlier and devoting that entire extra
time to reading can also be a big help.
- Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try
Pandora. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.