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25 ways PR and marketing firms can thrive

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Featured on PR Daily |  We’re more than halfway through the year of our firm’s 25th anniversary. We’ve barely had time to celebrate. That’s a good thing. We’re busy. We’re growing. We keep key clients and attract new ones.

I recently reflected on the top five reasons our firm is celebrating 25 years, five reasons that apply equally well to other PR and communication firms. Here they are:

  1. Establish and communicate your mission and principles early. Stay true to both.
  2. It may be obvious, but be the best at what you do.
  3. Build and nurture lasting relationships: be the company people know, like and trust.
  4. Seek out clients who lead the markets they serve to maximize your firm’s chances to partner with thought leaders, pioneer new marketing ideas to meet client and firm goals simultaneously.
  5. Love what you do and hire people who love what they do—passion breeds passion!

Here are 20 more to bring it to 25, because we PR folks like to pitch lists and it takes lots of bullet points to get to 25 years:

  1. Make business and community partnerships a matter of the first importance; encourage your clients to do the same—and then help them do it.
  2. Develop niches of expertise, whether by market segments or, given a unique location, through multi-city or cross-border events; celebrate your uniqueness.
    Use it to your clients’  advantage.
  3. Become an active partner in the community, volunteering, serving on boards and sponsoring and attending events.
  4. Support your staff’s involvement in community and leadership initiatives. Designate one firm member to lead the charge.
  5. Don’t get down when the going gets rough; get going. This is the best time to reinvest, innovate and change.
    (The recession after 9/11 challenged us to create co-opportunities that could affect change in the economy and recovery in our Canada-Detroit region.)
  6. Show appreciation for your clients in words, actions, support and consideration.
  7. Believe in and support the communities you work in and the brands you develop and promote.
  8. Meet or beat deadlines.
  9. Keep clients up to date on their projects.
  10. Anticipate technology’s evolution in communications and be ahead of the game in integrating online and offline advancement.
  11. Build and maintain relationships with things that never go out of style: handwritten notes, phone calls, kindness and sincerity.
  12. Protect your intellectual property; seek expert advice on trademarks, patents and IP protection.
  13. Price your work to reflect its value. Pay your staff to reflect their value.
  14. Do you serve non-profits? Understand the roles communications and PR can play in long-term fundraising campaigns.
  15. View your design work as the art that it is. Fresh, clean and relevant is the art of doing good business while communicating your client’s services or products to their audiences.
  16. Be the connector for your clients, introducing them to people that can become their strategic partners or providers of support services.
  17. Always do your homework. Be strategic in the design and execution of projects and desired outcomes.
  18.  We are judged by the company we keep; surround your company with the best. Seek and engage top talent to serve as company advisory board members.
    Recruit outside experts who can provide industry perspectives, feedback and insights.
  19. Reject the idea of publicity stunts. They can backfire on you and your clients.
  20. Set the bar high for performance; when you reach it, move it up a notch.

Kay Douglas is the President and Founder of Douglas Marketing Group, which was established in 1991 and has offices in Detroit and Ontario.


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