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Edward Bernays would dig me. Seasoned public relations strategist (10+ years in the game) who has practiced PR in multiple cities: Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago & DC. I'm an observationist and a soon to be card carrying member of the Twitterati. I love comfortable silences, revel in the Seinfeldian absurdities of life and have been described as a habitual line stepper. These are my thoughts...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Introducing Your Starters….

In our profession there’s been a lot written and said about what type of PR Pro we don’t want amongst our ranks. I’ve been guilty of this too, highlighting the types of things public relations professionals do incorrectly or fail to do all together. But what of the public relations practitioners and communicators we do want in our profession, and more importantly on our team?

Since I’m still basking in a hangover from the recent NBA season, I’ll use a basketball analogy to highlight this topic.

If you could play GM and put together a starting five of PR Pros to work on your communications team for any project who would they be? How should the team be constructed?

I’ve given this some thought and here’s my ‘Fab Five’ Comm Team:

The Manager – This person not only can do what the name suggests – manage people – but this captain of the team is a visionary who can see the big picture and “draws up the play.” He/she is a good judge of talent. The Manager is receptive to creative ideas or can inspire or generate them. The Manager’s experience comes from years in the business, so there are few, if any, situations they aren’t prepared to handle. This person also is great for putting together a comprehensive PR plan of action or acting as a buffer/conduit to executive level staff. This person also can competently fill in and do the tasks of the other four members on the team if the need arises.

The News Man – This is the one person you definitely want coordinating the media relations component of any project. Not only does this Pro have a good nose for what makes a compelling news story, but he/she can go “hard in the paint” and successfully pitch a story to the media with eyes closed. The News Man is like an artist when it comes to proactive media outreach, but even more importantly this person’s zone defense, when it comes to reactive media relations and crisis communications, is second to none. The News Man has an astute understanding of how media relations fits into the greater communications plan.

The Inside Guy (Gal) – Every good communications team needs someone on the squad who can “feed it inside” when it comes to internal communications/PR. Internal communications is the forgotten step child of public relations, usually because so many organizations have shipped it over to human resources. But if you want to effectively control the message externally, you have to do it internally first. The Inside Guy is the person who handles employee communications when it comes to delicate matters as well as when there is good news to share. This person also is involved with internal town hall meetings, intranet communications, the employee newsletter, internal crisis communications, and promoting the organization or individual employees/staff (i.e. awards, spotlights, community recognition, best places to work, etc.).

The Writer – This teammate loves to set-up the rest of the team or others within the organization with the assist. He/she is in love with the written language and can bring mundane words to life. The Writer has a hand in a lot of areas and you can find evidence of their craft in press releases, op-eds, white papers, articles, bios, backgrounders and speeches. Every highly functional communications team needs someone who can write their arse off and help create an organization’s voice. The writer can even pitch-in and help the folks in marketing by drafting promotional copy or assisting with copywriting.

The Event Guy (Gal) – It’s almost a given that a busy and fast paced PR team will have to periodically get involved with planning/executing events. When it comes time to do it, this is where Event Guy shines. He/she can handle an event from “conception to conclusion” and that includes: assigning roles/responsibilities, managing the event flow and budget, hiring and managing vendors, logistics, coordination of talent and VIP guests. This might seem like a glamour position, but this person is the most vulnerable if a shabbily run event leaves attendees with a less than stellar experience. A top exec might be more forgiving for a poor turn-out than a poor execution. Event guy can also help with the double team on handling internal organizational events and celebrations (i.e. ground breakings, meetings, award ceremonies, press conferences, check presentations, etc.).

On my bench would be Social Media Guy and The Designer. These two positions would complete the team.

I know many are looking at this team I assembled and thinking first that having all of these specialized positions filled would be a luxury, and secondly, as a result of the potential overlap it may make sense to bring on a “two-way” player who can do several of these things. Well that’s what most organizations actually do when they can’t play pretend GM.

So I ask the question, which one of these teammates do you see yourself as or, what type of team would you assemble?

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