Today's The Charlotte Observer featured a story on recruiting good teachers. The article, Teachers who stick to the rules may not stay, has lessons for not only school administrators, but for employers looking to hire public relations professionals and for the professionals themselves.
According to University of Wisconsin Professor Martin Haberman, employers should seek teachers that are realistic about the challenges and creative in addressing the problems. The best teachers don't allow the rules to keep them from reaching the ultimate goal, and the don't shrink when the bosses come calling. Employers looking for the best PR talent should pay attention.
The best public relations professionals don't just do as they are told, they provide strategic counsel. They set realistic expectations for their clients and find creative solutions to problems. They are able to quickly move in a new direction and think fast on their feet when things don't go as planned and in crisis situations. Public relations is more than publicity and should be treated as a part of your strategic business plan. Your public relations professional should be at the table when decisions are made; they should help guide the organization. Allow them to provide you with strategic counsel that goes against the grain. You will be glad you did.
The lesson (for PR professionals). Be a maverick; don't follow the leader. Don't simply follow an action plan given to you by your clients. Don't be afraid to change your client's mind about what they need and give them more than they expect. After all that is what they are paying you for - strategic counsel.