THINKPIECE: If you want to get ahead in the public relations world,here's a novel approach - try thinking

Some of the most frequent questions I hear from my PR colleagues

are: How do I get to the table? How do I have real influence? What does

it take to get the boss to listen and act on what I say? The easy

response is, 'You have to be strategic.' But more PR execs need to

understand what being strategic means. It actually begins with


If you walk into a room to talk to an executive about an important

situation and the first thing you ask about is what should be in the

news release, you're obviously not thinking. (The executive can probably

write a better press release anyway, and it isn't strategic.)

If you walk into a room having asked for 15 minutes to discuss something

with a client, leave after 45 minutes, and later send a memo describing

what was covered in the meeting without sharing something the executive

does not already know, this is not thinking, and it certainly isn't


If you walk into a meeting with executives and spend time defending how

over-worked and underpaid reporters are, or excuse their lack of

knowledge, this is not thinking, and it isn't strategic.

If all you have to speak about with senior clients is the news media,

reporters, or the PR 'stuff' you're generating, this is not thinking,

and it certainly isn't strategic.

If the PR practitioner is truly interested in being on the strategy

team, there are four crucial tests any communication advice given

executives must pass. Does your suggestion, recommendation, or idea:

- Support the boss' objectives and goals?

- Support the organization's goals and mission as a whole?

- Still seem really necessary after answering numbers 1 and 2 with a


- Make successful some part, mission, or goal of the organization that

would fail to succeed otherwise?

If you want to get to the table:

- Stand for something.

- Be civil (avoid whining).

- Advocate, study, question, think, and challenge all your own

assumptions first.

- Be ready to provide instant, useful, on-the-spot advice and counsel

from your client's or executive's perspective.

The answer to all questions about being at the table is learn to talk in

management's language, show them something they don't already know, and

provide insight and doable options they can select. Most of all,


- James Lukaszewski has just published a three-volume crisis management

strategy series in collaboration with the PRSA

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