Gini Dietrich

The PR Firm of the Future

By: Gini Dietrich | June 3, 2013 | 

The PR Firm of the FutureAs a business owner, I spend a lot of time thinking about what’s to come.

In the digital information age, will more and more organizations become virtual? Will people create jobs for themselves that allow them to work to live instead of the other way around?

With the Affordable Care Act coming to the U.S. workforce as early as this fall, will more organizations look for ways to streamline their personnel to make things affordable?

How different will the PR firm look from today? Can you have an organization of hundreds of people who don’t have a central place to go every day?

Organizations are Shifting

When we went virtual in 2011, I thought it was going to be only for a year. I thought it was a good test (and gave me 12 months to gain a cash log), but that most would want that office to go to every day.

Boy, was I wrong! Not even *I* want that space to go to every day. I love working from home….and I’m finding not just my team is the same, but so are many of the talented people we hire part-time.

You’re certainly beginning to see a shift in how organizations work. Bloomberg, P&G, and Crate and Barrel have knocked down their physical walls and created environments that are meant to function like airports or hotels.

More organizations are allowing some in-office and some from home work days during each week. And, of course, there was the big hub-bub when Yahoo! announced they were requiring everyone to be in the office at all times.

So we have both sides…and the Yahoo! example is most likely the majority (I have no science to back that up; it’s based solely on how my friends run their organizations and on how many are run in Chicago).

A Shift in the PR Industry

But I’m seeing a shift right now in our industry. I don’t think it’ll happen quickly. In fact, I don’t think you’ll see a lot of it until Millennials are running companies. But I do see a shift.

Take us, for instance. We have two open positions right now and the reason we haven’t posted job descriptions yet or started interviewing is because the people we need are pretty much impossible to find.

We need people who are a hybrid PR professional: They need to be experts in media and blogger relations, content development, content marketing, workflow development and email marketing, on-page search engine optimization, issues management, and client service. If they can also do some simple WordPress coding, they’ll move to the front of the line.

You see our dilemma? Those people don’t exist.

While we think about how to fill those positions, we’ve hired five freelancers to help us in the interim. Each one has a specific skill set in one of those areas (or maybe two, but not more than that) and they’re guaranteed 10 hours a week of work.

It may be impossible to find one person who will work 50 hours a week and be able to do all of that work…and still be happy and motivated and not burned out and playing to their strengths.

The PR Firm of the Future

So we’re thinking more and more about the future and what a professional services firm may look like.

It isn’t necessary for us to have an office. It isn’t necessary we even be in the same city as our clients. It’s getting less and less necessary – with Google Hangouts and other technology – to get on a plane to see our clients.

So why not think about how to run an organization full of people who work the hours they want to work and do the things they want to do?

If you’re focused on results, the PR firm of the future very well could be completely virtual and full of specialists who come and go as they please.

Sounds pretty enticing, doesn’t it?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Goals goals goals and more goals! I really agree that this will be the way of the future. Allow people to do the work they have assigned to them, and achieve or surpass their monthly or quarterly goals, and who cares how or where they get that work done! Obviously, even here at AD we have structure and we all more or less work regular office hours/deal with deadlines/attend weekly meetings, etc.. But being able to pop out for an appointment, easily work on a weekend if that’s a preference, or simply chug away while perched on the front porch – those things are PRICELESS. And IMHO create the utmost in employee satisfaction and company loyalty.

    • belllindsay I wonder if we’re not the norm, though. I see lots of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who flinch when I tell them about this structure. The Millennials, though? They love it!

      • ginidietrich Well, many Boomers/Xers are very set in their ways – and yes, many people really need ‘structure’ in their day to day lives (the commute, having to be at work at a certain time, etc.) but I have that same structure in my work from home life. I get up the same time every morning, start work, take breaks, yadda yadda. I think many people don’t believe they would have the self discipline required for this type of work.

        • belllindsay ginidietrich I had this same battle early on in my own career when we moved from VA to PA. There were some outside account managers who screwed things up for everyone, so my supervisor was very, very wary about allowing me to work remotely. 
          I was one of the top producing account managers on my team leading up to that move, so I had a much stronger case to allow the “unorthodox” work situation.

        • ElissaFreeman

          jasonkonopinski belllindsay ginidietrich There is something to be said for proving yourself. Going forward, one will need to give references highlighting the fact they can produce while working remotely…

        • belllindsay ginidietrich Indeed, we are affraid and do not trust ourselves to be disciplined.

      • ElissaFreeman

        ginidietrich belllindsay I don’t know about those Boomers who would disagree, believe it or not. As of late, there’s been a ton of discussion on LiinkedIN groups about ‘ageism’ in PR. Many PR pros ‘of a certain age’ (ahem) have found solo consulting the way to go – for a variety of reasons.  In my case? It means  being around for my teenage daughter and only working with people I like, quite frankly….

      • ginidietrich belllindsay Unflinching Gen Xer here. Agree this structure isn’t for everyone. I work an 8hr gig, and I freelance. Personally, I am much more productive outside the cube. I appreciate being treated as a craftsman rather than a worker and being compensated for what I am gifted to craft instead of the time I spent producing it. I believe this idea goes back to medieval times…maybe even caveman days. Gini, it’s cool you recognize the value in it.

        • Word Ninja ginidietrich Are you calling us cavemen, WordNinja!? 😉

        • belllindsay ginidietrich That’s not a bad thing…except for all the hair, maybe.
          But you guys see the value in a long-held idea that people work best in their gifts/skills and in environments that support that. Maybe more businesses will follow…

      • ginidietrich belllindsay The Boomers and Xers will get on board when they can’t attract any good talent without changing their culture. The time of “I’m the boss and they can do it my way” is coming to an end.

  • Get the work done on time and to expectations. The rest takes care of itself. 🙂

    • jasonkonopinski Presumably so.

      • ginidietrich We’ve talked a lot about this. I *love* working from home, but starting next week, I’ll be transitioning into a coworking space locally as a founding member. For me, it’ll give me an opportunity to collaborate with other client partners more regularly.

        • jasonkonopinski ginidietrich Would love to hear more about your co-working arrangement  I think we’re headed in that direction too — at least for a portion of our workers.

        • blfarris ginidietrich Absolutely! I’ll be blogging about it soon. 🙂

  • Defnitely see the same problem as far as finding skill sets. The needs are fragmenting along more lines. In the future there will be eve more needs — augmented reality, gamification, and who knows what else. Hard to keep up.

    • markwschaefer Even mobile and data analysis and good old plain writing.

      • ginidietrich markwschaefer Good old plain writing is where I look first for content writers too. I figure I can train them in SEO and best practices for writing online, but I can’t give them that *sparkle* in their writing.

        • TaraGeissinger ginidietrich markwschaefer A gal after my own heart. 😉

  • We’ve been virtual for 8 years now and our business definitely couldn’t exist if it were confined by walls. The talent we’ve been able to source has been the key to our success. I have Project Managers, Writers and Proofers scattered across the country and Canada — many of them working part-time as opposed to full time. I love working from home too!

    • TaraGeissinger I’m trying to decide how this all fits into PT and FT and benefits and all of that, too. Lots going on in this head of mine.

  • Your post makes me think about the writing component of PR. There are a lot of people who do not consider themselves to be writers but because they work at it they are effective communicators.
    I sometimes wonder how technology will impact them. Will the increasing focus on tech skills have a negative impact on their desire and willingness to work at writing.
    There definitely is something to be said for the flexibility of working from anywhere. I did that for seven years but I have to concede that I have enjoyed going back into an office environment far more that I had thought I would.
    Some of spontaneous collaboration has been wonderful. It is not impossible to do that outside of the office by any means, but in my experience it was more structured time wise.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I think there will always be room for pure writers — but if you have some tech skills too it does make you more marketable.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Yes I do agree- my last sales role was a work from home situation, and I was only at the office for meetings. I do kind of like having my own space here at the office-keeps me sort of focused while I am here. But then again, I am rarely here.

      • RebeccaTodd Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes You…? FOCUSED….???!!! 😉

        • belllindsay RebeccaTodd Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I did say “sort of.”

        • RebeccaTodd belllindsay Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes SQUIRREL!

        • jasonkonopinski RebeccaTodd belllindsay Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes My office faces a forest- for real- Tales From The Green Forest, every day. Deer and hawks and stuff…I wish it were just squirrels distracting me…

        • RebeccaTodd jasonkonopinski belllindsay Dancing spiders.

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes RebeccaTodd jasonkonopinski That reminds me — need to send more photos to belllindsay

        • jasonkonopinski Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes RebeccaTodd belllindsay Ooo yes! On the count of three, let’s flood her inbox with spideys…1…2…3!!!

        • RebeccaTodd jasonkonopinski belllindsay Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Any lemurs? I like lemurs.

        • jasonkonopinski Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes RebeccaTodd Bugger off you two!!

        • belllindsay jasonkonopinski Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes RebeccaTodd It’s no fun when you won’t look. Someday I’ll tell you the story of having a red back spider stuck in my ear.

  • I think tech start-ups can teach us a lot about how we work. The ones I’ve been connected with have essentially let you choose your own hours, and the environment you work in. You can work through the night if that’s your preference, or do two 15-hour days over the weekend and have the rest of the week free.
    Give people a reason to enjoy work, and guess what? They’ll enjoy it. Good thoughts to start the week, miss.

    • Danny Brown I have to figure out how to run a professional services business in two 15-hour days a week.

  • sherrilynne

    You are right, things are changing, but for many PR firms the virtual
    model just doesn’t work out. I think it’s partly because PR people are
    social beasts…we like to be around people. At TF part of my job is to
    mentor staff members and help them in the learning of the craft. I find
    being there physically is pretty much essential for this reason.

    • sherrilynne I think technology allows you to mention staff members without you having to be there physically. Look at how teenagers study together now. It’s all through video technology.

  • Hi Gini,
    Great post! This is a good issue to think
    about and embrace.
    In Europe we are not as flexible as we
    think we are, and for the moment working from home applies to freelancers and
    small companies – as in free Fridays.
    We have to study Millennials, see what
    they want, like and open our minds. 
    This is the future, we like it or not. The
    earlier we embrace it, the better for us.

    • @corinamanea Well, you already know I agree with you!

  • Gini;
    You are right — the employee of the future doesn’t exist. The classes to train people in these skills don’t exist. People need to have the natural curiosity to learn much of this on their own! 
    I’m working with a number of clients to “hire young and train”. If we can identify self-motivated and curious folks then we can define the training program, give them the developmental assignments and (hopefully) see them flourish. Yes, we lose some to competitors — but we keep some too and it’s surprising how much value they create even while they are learning.
    Freelancers definitely have their place, and are a huge help for stop-gap measures. I always want some freelance talent in the mix. But I’ll take people who are focused on my business full-time over freelancers any day.
    Just my $.02
    PS. Oh, and virtual all the way! Some of the new co-working spaces are making it work even better (and help resolve the issue of a need to be social).

    • blfarris Love this: “People need to have the natural curiosity to learn much of this on their own!”

      • belllindsay blfarris me too! let´s remember this is the definition of the PR pro of all times: natural curiosity.

    • rustyspeidel

      blfarris I agree. If that person doesn’t exist, create them through a good job description, someone you want to work with every day, a timeline for development, and support to get there in stages.

      • rustyspeidel That’s the key — getting there in stages. You can never get there all at once and that’s frustrating. We want that perfect person NOW! But I find I get along pretty well with imperfect people along the way.

    • blfarris I’ve been thinking all day about what you said about people focused on your business full-time versus freelancers. I can’t decide. It might be because of my major dislike of the HR part of my job.

  • Interesting perspective and question. I have been with my organization almost 19 years. The first 14, our ED was a working mom. Although it was still an almost completely “be at the physical office” environment, there was flexibility for the occasional appearance by a child who was waiting to be taken to the doctor and various other small allowances. When our ED switched to a (much) more old school male ED, that all changed. Although it’s a topic for a different post of its own, I was literally told, “my wife took care of all that kid stuff when our kids were little and I was building my career — of course maybe that’s why we’re divorced now.” But I disgress…….
    One of the other things that I believe having the ability to work from home (or elsewhere) part of the time is the ability to manage energy levels — if you need a ten minute walk outside to get fresh air, take it. Come back raring to go.
    Lastly, though, this post brings up a question for me — how do you create esprit de corps when much of your organization is at physically disparate places? I’m thinking of the kind of bonds you build when you are sitting around waiting for meetings to start and learn about someone’s spouse’s job change, or their parent’s surgery, or their [you name it] life event. Is it possible to build that without being together? Or is it even necessary to have it?

    • biggreenpen Ummm…wow- great quote! I got drunkenly lectured at my old job when my manager “hired too many young women in a row” and now we would “all want time off for babies”.

    • biggreenpen Not to speak for Gini, but we are constantly connected all day long. We email, text message, Hang Out and Skype – trust me – some of those Skype chats devolve into riotously inappropriate banter. 😉 Bottom line, we are able to build those relationships because we are all ‘there’ for each other. For example, when I was having a total mental breakdown dealing with a rambunctious puppy (our first) and working from home – Yvette took time out of her Saturday evening to skype with me and give me advice. While business is business, and often we send curt, one word answers to things, we also make time in the day/week for fun.

      • belllindsay biggreenpen What Lindsay said…and I try to see everyone on the team – in person – at least once a month.

  • Lots to think about here, G! I worked from a remote office for years, and found it a little isolating, truth be told. But we had a major cultural illness at that point in that job, so it’s hard to keep those two parts separate. Here, I like my office…some days. I’m not so good at going to the same place and doing the same thing every day, nor am I so skilled at “office politics”, so sometimes I feel a bit like a time bomb when I am at my desk. We have a divide in our office between “professional role” and “clerical roles”, so I am still supposed to keep somewhat regular hours when I am here. Which is a challenge- I mean again this weekend I will be working the whole thing, out of town, making money. Which most people in the office don’t see or understand…weird dynamic tension.

    • RebeccaTodd When I was young, I traveled Tuesday through Saturday and then was expected in the office on Sunday to do expense reports and at our team meeting at 8 a.m. on Mondays. I never was excused from either of those and worked seven days a week for nearly four years. Then they were shocked when I said that was one of the reasons I was leaving. The whole idea that you can’t take a day off during the week = when you’re driving revenue for an organization on the weekends – is ridiculous.

  • DickCarlson

    I’m finding, more and more often, that the best people available are just not interested in any kind of gig that involves coming to an office.  When I get a project bigger than I can handle on my own, I just start adding friends out of my contact list from around the world.  Through Skype, GoToMeeting, G+ and email we’re probably more connected than if we were in a single building.  And there’s a lovely digital paper trail of every thought and discussion.
    Don’t tell me about Gen Next.  I’m old enough to be their GrandPa.

    • DickCarlson Yep, but we, as generation do not embrace that easy the change. There are exceptions like yourself, of course.

    • DickCarlson As you know, I love the video capability of our technology. You and I get work done as if we’re in the same room sometimes and I love that.

  • Or just maybe in the same way Legal Zoom changed legal…there can be a PRZoom and I can just go to this site pick what I want, pay the fee and blammo instant PR. With twitter ending the need for press conferences and press releases what more is needed?

    On a serious note I am a firm believer in core competencies. And similar to lean manufacturing services can be done this way. The hard part is finding the big picture people who can take what the specialists do and bring it all together.
    Someone who has pondered this a lot and even gone as far as been a champion of changing the college curriculum to have more grads ready for the advertising world right out of school (Boulder Digital Works, The Next Gen blog) is edwardboches and it seems like PR needs something as well.

    • Howie Goldfarb I have about 16 different thoughts from your three paragraphs. We should chat about this more.

  • Gini, in your Facebook posting you’ve alluded to the real question:
    “What do PR Customers of the future want/need?” 
    My sense is they want the very best of the best to help them with the issues they face be it on a global, national, regional or local basis delivered in a timely manner and at optimal cost.  This may mean the demise of the generalist and the rise of the niche specialist teams drawing on the best talent and experience irrespective of where they live and work.
    The challenge for service entrepreneurs is to clearly articulate and promote their specialism so that both clients and resource providers are attracted to become part of the ‘experience’
    What is AD’s specialism going to be that will attract top flight clients – the ones you really want to work with, to sign up with you from say the UK, Europe and South East Asia?
    Look forward to chatting to you on Wednesday as I think we are both working on the same issue

    • richardbosworth I’m really looking forward to chatting with you in a couple of days!

  • Ahh damn I have to weigh in again. Now clearly I have a vested interest in this, but I believe nothing will ever replace face-to-face with my customers. Yeah yeah it’s how I make my money and get paid to see the world, but honestly that human connection is so very powerful. I don’t get the same level of “relationship” with someone that I’ve not met in person. I do better, “sell” better, when I get to meet with the people in person. I haven’t found a way to replicate that, and really, don’t want to.

    • RebeccaTodd I really thought the same a few years ago, but it hasn’t hindered us at all. In fact, with G+ and Skype, we “see” our clients more now than we did when we had to get on a plane to go visit them. I really love my Monday afternoon client meetings because I sit with each of them and we work, as if we were in the same office. It works extraordinarily well.

  • history is filled with evidence that leadership by force does not last. an office that forces employees to be at an office everyday at a certain time, may work for the short-term, but over the long-term it’ll breed discontent. imho there needs to be mutual cooperation, more like a partnership, for it to work. I don’t see anything wrong with the direction we’re heading, as long as there’s accountability, meaningful interactions, and we remain humans at heart.

    • itsjessicann Of course I agree with you…and I think it’s more about giving up the perceived idea of control and treating people like grown-ups.

  • Back in the mid/late 1990s, the PR firm I worked for (actually, just the Chicago office — we were reblels) tested a concept called “hoteling.” It was based on the practice at the big consulting firms apparently. The vision was that nobody would have a permanent office. All their stuff would be stored on mobile carts and for the few occasions they were in the office (versus working on-site at the client or telecommuting), they’d wheel their cart to an open cube and do their work from there.
    It didn’t catch on, but the intentions were noble, if a little ahead of their time. I’m always amused by those who wonder about the “discipline” or “focus” of people who work out of their homes. Wouldn’t most companies love to have employees who are self-motivated enough to get their work done without someone watching them and looking over their shoulder? 
    The answer, of course, is that they would, but for most hiring managers, “self-starter” is an abstract phrase they pay lip service to but would be hard-pressed to actually define.

    • RobBiesenbach I’m surprised it didn’t catch on. Do you know why? Do you think it’d catch on now?

      • ginidietrich A combination of things. Only a handful of people were regularly working off-site at clients, people who got to a certain level felt pretty wedded to their nice window offices (not me, of course — I’M A SPARTAN), but most of all, looking back now, working remotely (especially from home) was a whole other deal back then, without broadband, smartphones or even much of an Internet to speak of. This was 97 or 98, I believe. So yeah, probably much more doable now.

  • I love having the flexibility of working at home. I don’t let myself become a hermit, though. I make an effort to set up meetings with clients, associates, prospects or friends regularly. I think face-to-face is important and I also don’t think you have to be in an office to achieve it. I save money (and lots and lots of time) on my commute, overhead costs by not having an office and I can work flexible hours around other obligations.
    Some jobs will never be realistic to do from home, but there are way more that could be done at home where the staff are stuck in an office by traditional thinking and fear.

    • Karen_C_Wilson I make an effort to speak at conferences so I don’t become a hermit. 🙂

      • ginidietrich Ya, I plan them as part of my anti-hermit efforts. Also, you know you can always count on being kept really busy whenever you come to Ottawa. There’s no way we’ll let you be a hermit here. 😉

  • SavvyInc

    It is hard to find one person with all the skills you mention, just as it has been difficult (in my experience) to find good writers. I’ve had applicants to my PR firm over the years who have great GPAs and all kinds of references, who just plain can’t write clearly and creatively. It’s a lost art. So while the skills you mention are important (SEO, blogger development, content management, etc.), much of it all comes down to the ability to write well. The other stuff can be learned pretty quickly. I know, because I’ve been transitioning my PR firm ( into a hybrid agency (thanks to HubSpot and your book, Gini).
    The other thing about working remotely vs. in an office (and I’ve done both) is I miss the creative environment of an office, bouncing ideas off one another, brainstorming sessions, and just hanging out after work with colleagues. Skype and Hangouts are OK, but a pale substitute. Working remotely can be a lonely endeavor at times.

    • SavvyInc I’ll tell you what…we’ve had really good luck with just opening Skype and keeping it open (sometimes for hours) while we work. It breeds the same level of creativity you’re talking about, but you are right you have to work at it.
      I’m super excited to hear you’re transitioning your agency. YAY!!

  • bowden2bowden

    As a boomer who spent many years in the confines of a corporation the transition to a virtual operation was a bit unnerving in thought. In reality I have found that productivity and creativity for me have increased. Looking back the security of the corporate structure lead to a corporate complacency. However many thrive in that environment, the ones that certainly do not fit what you are looking for as a team mate!

    • PattiRoseKnight1

      bowden2bowden I’m a boomer too and I felt the same way but also get more done now that I work virtually. The only thing i need to work on is keeping up with professional development reading. When I commuted I would have a folder of “reading” for the ride to and from work. I think I may need to schedule reading time on my calendar like i do actual appointments because it tends to pile up and then at times it is old news by the time I get to reading about it. Other than that i love working virtually too.

      • bowden2bowden

        I can understand Patri. I tend to immerse myself into the screen consuming constantly and with the google+ hangout platform the ease of a quick eye2eye collaboration is a breeze. I think it is just the rapid change of tech, the increase of content and the feeling that you can not disconnect for even a day that gives a drowning feeling sometimes.

        • bowden2bowden

          sorry for the typo on the name Patti

        • PattiRoseKnight1

          bowden2bowden no problem

    • bowden2bowden I love this! I’m going to use you as an example.

  • PattiRoseKnight1

    I would never have thought I’d be happy working from home; and I resisted more than the others and all I can say is boy was I wrong. It took some time to find that balance – which for me meant not working until 10 pm because I didn’t have to commute back and forth. I am happy to say now I have found that balance that works best for me…I will work until 10 pm if necessary but it is not the norm.

    • PattiRoseKnight1 Balance is the key word–in the way we work alone and in the amount of in-person time we incorporate into the out-of-office structure.

      • PattiRoseKnight1

        Word Ninja PattiRoseKnight1 I completely agree. It took some time to find the balance but I think we’re there. At first everyone would send Gini “quick” emails and if you think about it 10 quick emails from 5 people is 50 quick emails and when it was brought up in a staff meeting we brainstormed and it was decided we would do “end of day” emails and keep a running list of action items for the day and send at the end of the day. Of course there will always be the exceptions that need immediate attention but for the most part we’ve learned to use email effectively and respect the time of others.

    • PattiRoseKnight1 You’re funny. You didn’t really resist it…at least not to me. You said you were game to try it, but I did think you’d be the one to say we needed to go back to an office. I was pleasantly surprised!

      • PattiRoseKnight1

        ginidietrich PattiRoseKnight1 by resist I meant that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do my job successfully because I’ve been used to working face-to-face with my bosses historically for decisions, signatures, etc.  The weekly 121s work well for me – I get the bulk of my needed decisions on a Monday and have the rest of the week to get it done. And the end of day way we communicate soothes my organized OCD quite well.  Most important (to me) is there money saved not having to commute. That is a huge savings.

  • KatherineBull

    I don’t know why managers resist having people work from home. It takes a mere 2 weeks to figure out when someone is goofing off and not doing their work. That’s it. I managed 25 news reporters in 1998, of which half were remote. Haven’t had a good news story in 2 weeks? Hmmm… you better start calling some sources and quick and have a story for next week’s issue. You just have to be a manager who pays attention to things like that.

    • KatherineBull Exactly! It seems so many systems are designed to take management judgment out of the equation. Like mandatory drug testing. If someone is exhibiting symptoms and their work is suffering, that’s how you know they have a problem. But I guess it’s easier to just subject everyone to a test. Look at people’s results: are they getting the work done, and done well? That’s what matters.

      • RobBiesenbach KatherineBull I suspect the mandatory drug testing is more a case of covering one’s legal butt. It’s hard to fire people without risk. If you singled out a person for a drug test, you would be at risk of litigation for picking out a member of the protected classes (unless the person was a white male, who wasn’t too old, lest one gets caught for agism). By testing everyone, it eliminates that issue.

        • KatherineBull

          ExtremelyAvg RobBiesenbach I’m not sure drug testing is a good analogy, Rob, but I understand your point. It does bring to mind, though, that organizations that flatten organizations to the point where one person is managing 75 people and it is a major drawback. When you have that many people reporting directly to you, there is no way you can be attuned to people’s issues or who’s doing what. Most companies struggle with balancing too few layers of management and having too many. I can’t think of one company that has done this well.

        • KatherineBull ExtremelyAvg Maybe not the most apt analogy. I’m talking about judging people on results. If someone is late all the time, misses deadlines, hands in shoddy work, those are reasons to discipline them. They may also be indications of drug use. Or may not. Maybe there are drug users who are doing stellar work. Enact a blanket drug-testing policy and you weed (heh) out every drug users, but maybe not every poor performer and maybe even some good performers. 
          Anyway, that’s as far as I’ll take the analogy. I don’t want to be branded the “Yay, drugs!” guy. I’m just saying large institutions like to enact policies for the lowest common denominator of performance — if there’s one drug user, test everyone; if a couple of people are late, make everyone punch a timeclock — eliminating as much as possible the need for management judgment and discretion.

        • RobBiesenbach KatherineBull ExtremelyAvg ROB’S THE “YAY DRUGS” GUY!!!!!

        • belllindsay RobBiesenbach KatherineBull ExtremelyAvg I agree with your points about using judgment when managing people.

        • belllindsay KatherineBull ExtremelyAvg D’oh! *resigned, updates LinkedIn profile*

        • KatherineBull

          RobBiesenbach KatherineBull ExtremelyAvg Rob, I’m the “Yay, drugs!” gal. 🙂

    • KatherineBull I can confirm how much Katherine keeps you under control. 😉

      • KatherineBull

        Danny Brown KatherineBull Well, there certainly ARE people, like Danny, who HAVE to be kept under control or they will run amok. 🙂

  • This is interesting. I know that marketing and PR are NOT the same thing, but I’ve been devoting my little gray cells to how marketing is changing in the book business.
    There are a number of well known sites who promote free and discounted Kindle books. A couple of the bigger ones are getting a reputation for having little ability to sell books. Authors are starting to avoid them.
    Still, there are a couple who have gone the other way and are in such demand they turn down business. I’ve submitted a request for my book to be sent out in an email blast (at a cost of $480) and though it has 34 reviews of 4.6 stars, they declined my business. They are turning away business because the do such a good job of selling books! Wow.
    There is another place that I was allowed to run an ad for one day. Their business model is that they track the sales through the link they send out and post on their FB page (half a million people follow that page) and for every sale they get 25% of the net profits. On a book priced at 99 cents, they get 25% of the 35 cents the author earns.  I sold 154 books that day. When I got their bill I paid it immediately as I was thrilled with the results.
    We live in an age where (at least in the book business) partnerships are possible. If there were a hundred sites that could move the needle like they did, I’d be trying to get all of them to take a cut of my profits.
    I don’t know if they have offices. My guess is they don’t. But, when an online site has so much demand from potential clients that they turn away $480 for five minutes of work in adding a book to their daily mailing, that is a sign that things have changed…and for the better.
    (Note: I’m not complaining about getting rejected…twice. It is a sign they care about quality control. They limit the number of books in a blast to something like six. I believe they also give preference to those who publish on more platforms and my books are only on Kindle (and print) at the moment. Some of the other biggies include 50 in their blasts and they are the ones that authors are starting to avoid.)

    • ExtremelyAvg This is really interesting…on more than one level. I have to think more about it.

      • ginidietrich ExtremelyAvg If you want more details, I’m happy to answer any questions. I do like talking about the book business.

  • susancellura

    Pick me! Pick me!

  • susancellura

    Seriously, though, I think what is currently called, “work/life balance” is turning into what you describe, Gini. In the directional drilling industry, the majority of the workforce is in the field. They are on rigs, traveling for sales, etc. Headquarters is filled with Finance, Legal, HR, and executives. To be honest, I could see the Marketing department embracing the shift in how it works during the week. I am unable to broach that subject with my boss at this time, but I see it as being difficult to ignore.
    I’ve always believed that if I get my work – quality/best – work done in four hours versus eight, there should not be a problem with that. It leaves me open to get more done (possibly on the creative side or attempt new things or go to my daughter’s Honor Roll celebration), and keeps projects moving along. That should not change whether I am in the office or not.
    In my humble opinion, the only thing that grows in the office is office politics. Blerg.

    • susancellura And more meetings and interruptions and drama. I do agree not all jobs can go the virtual route, but I’m with you…if you can get your work done in half a day, why not let you take on more responsibility or heck…go home!

  • I love this post… I’m writing one right now about Silo-d PR that will definitely touch some nerves. I’m quoting you now.

  • As each day goes by, I’m finding it more challenging to identify myself. Now that I’m in HubSpot school and digital marketing has become yet another of my competencies, I can’t quite pin the tale on the PR person that is pure. I’m a hybrid for sure, and I have no idea how others aren’t running to be like this. It’s our future; it’s where PR needs to migrate for continued success.

    • Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing I think you found your messaging; you are extraordinarily social savvy/marketing savvy professional with a foundation in the most essential skill needed in the social space: PR.   I totally see who  you are.
      PS – I’m writing that post now for ArCompany for Wed.  Will tag you because I start it with you:)

      • AmyMccTobin Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Tracking back atcha! You and Gini in my post I’m wrapping up for tomorrow, too!  Thanks, Amy, so much for that clarity!! XO

    • Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing This is why most are not doing it: It’s a lot of work, not everyone is curious, not everyone has the time to learn, and sometimes the 9-5 job is really the 7-7 job and they just don’t have the wherewithal to manage it.

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  • rdopping

    advice I would be more than happy to share it.It sure does sound enticing. I have been doing a lot of research into this subject mainly because it affects my livelihood significantly. For anyone reading this I am an Interior Designer working primarily in the corporate office environment.
    There has been a palpable shift in strategy for many of the progressive firms out there. Many forward thinking companies recognize the value technology brings to productivity but also understand human nature and the social aspect of the human condition. People need to be near each other. They need their pack. That notion expresses itself physically in many corporate environments as collaboration space (enhanced meeting and gathering space). This approach satisfies the need for times where isolated heads down work is critical (home) and where sharing ideas, inspiration and collaboration are required.
    I could go into detail here but lets suffice it to say while the tech advances have benefited smaller corporations greatly larger organizations will be much slower to convert primarily because of business operations. Many corporations we have worked with have been reducing space in recognizing that not everyone needs dedicated workplace which is a clear precursor to the virtual office of the future.
    I may need to become an IT guy and just when I finally got my professional accreditation (after 23 years in the biz).
    Hey, clearly this is a passion of mine so if anyone wants any further infoo

    • rdopping

      Damn phone cut me off again. I would be happy to share if anyone wants to chat about this more.

    • rdopping I think you’re spot on – at ArCompany one of the first issues we tackle in so many instances is organizational challenges, and I’m sure Gini does too.

      • rdopping I think you’re spot on, too and I find it really interesting from an interior design perspective. So interesting, in fact, I wonder if you’d write a guest post for us about it from that perspective? It can riff off this post here to get you started.

        • rdopping

          Make me work……oh, wait. That’s not work. It’s fun. I’ll do it but please be patient.

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  • Oooh…I love thinking about this stuff. In fact, that’s what kateupdates and I spent time talking about last week. I wonder if the firms of the future will be some balance of remote working and office space. I do think there is value in being in the same place, but maybe give employees more flexibility about when they are there.
    I also think the collaborative workspace is picking up steam – at least in Nashville. There are starting to be more places where you can pay a low-cost rent for having a mailbox, copy services and access to conference rooms and office space for so many days a month. It’s way more affordable than traditional office rent, but yet, gives you the space for meetings and collaboration when you need it. I often wonder if that’s a route I’ll take as I grow my team.
    And, P.S. – the people you’re looking to hire really don’t exist?! Darn. That’s no good because that’s very similar to what I’m looking for!

    • lauraclick kateupdates I definitely plan on not confining my team to the bounds of my city limits. I have seen the benefits of keeping things digital and I’m a big fan. And that makes the list of things to think through when it comes to prospective talent. Definitely a big factor. 
      Oh and I have one client who is in NYC and she pays $30/week for a tiny office space that’s share with several other people on an as-needed basis. They just use a time-slot method and take turns using it. Very interesting.

      • KateFinley lauraclick We’ve had really good luck for the past year and a half of not having any space at all. My fear of doing that, of course, is the need as CEO for me to be there every day. I no likey.

  • Hello, right here? *wavesfromATL* I can type and talk, write and email, design and blog. Though I’d probably mess up WordPress PHP code right good. And you’ll want that health plan; I’m all for relevant data, but looking at spreadsheets too long gives me hives. Ahem. 🙂
    Right fine comments. You know my thoughts on home/office. That typed, for the right job in the right office, I’d make it work a few days a week. 
    Someone mentioned core skills think Howie Goldfarb , TaraGeissinger training. It’s balance; you may have to find people who hit certain of these, then others who fill those gaps like SEO and WP. Plenty of folks like me know enough to be dangerous but not enough to do it; but b/c we know enough, we work well w/ those types, can collaborate on projects, ideas. The rest – the AD/SS style of integrated PR, that can be taught to some extent. 
    As to the future, think you and @susancellera nailed it in contrasting the ‘home office’ vs. those in the field, doing actual work. Less planes and meetings, more doing. Think those that will succeed will be those who make the trends, the tech, the tools work for them (rather than working for the tools; snerk) — but always, always stick to the core of true PR – stakeholders,  relationships, communications. FWIW.

    • 3HatsComm But can you chew gum and walk at the same time?

      • ginidietrich Only on odd days, even side of the street. 🙂

  • Gini, have I told you lately that I love you?
    Wait, that sounded kind of creepy. Seriously, though, you’re a rarity – a business owner who not only has a high comfort level with virtual offices, but values a diverse skill set.
    My experience has been that most managers are still stuck in an old-school “expert” mindset. They’re looking for an employee that fits neatly into a particular tried-and-true job description and, well, I just don’t.
    I suspect a lot of other communications professionals don’t, either, but we’re so used to crafting our resumes to fit into those “typical” job descriptions, you might just be missing out on us. 
    Basically, most hiring managers think I lack focus because I have some graphic design, web design, media relations, internal comms, photography, comms planning, and yes, a TON of writing experience in my work history. Oh, and that one job I took managing continuing education programs … in construction. Yes, really. 
    I call it being a “communications generalist. Pithy, isn’t it?
    I’m glad you’re starting this conversation, because I think there’s a lot of value in the disparate experiences us generalists bring to the workplace.
    And the good news is: I think you’re wrong – the people you’re looking for do exist. 
    Or at least mostly. After all, if I can do graphic design and WordPress coding and write killer content, then hypothetically, I could figure out workflow development pretty quickly. 😉

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  • The whole conversation about where business/communications/PR is going fascinates me. While working on something for a client, I read an abstract about “The Burden of Knowledge” by Benjamin Jones.
    I’m paraphrasing, but what I got from what I read was that as we advance in general, each individual needs to gain more knowledge in order to innovate and build on what’s come before. Because of this, we’ll likely need to specialize and collaborate more, relying on the expertise of others.
    In short: Hiring five part-time people to fill two full-time positions that nobody quite qualifies for.
    As you note, hints of this are happening — maybe more quickly in other areas (i.e. tech startups) than in ours, but it’s happening nonetheless. It’s so interesting to see, and be part of, what’s unfolding!

  • Caryn Stofko

    Doing all those things does burn you out. I experienced this in one of my previous positions. Just because you can do I all doesn’t mean you should do it all…except in nonprofit where you “need to be experts in media and blogger relations, content development, content marketing, workflow development and email marketing, on-page search engine optimization, issues management, and client service. If they can also do some simple WordPress coding,” event management, development, grant and executive writing. Oh, and would you mind cleaning the kitchen, and painting the office?

  • Another great post Gini. I love the idea of “So why not think about how to run an organization full of people who work the hours they want to work and do the things they want to do?” If done right  I think that this model can work – perhaps more efficiently and with more productivity than having a person sit in the same cube or office  all day and every day. Having that kind of office job was one of the reasons I left it. Like you, I love working from home. I  find that my inspiration comes not just from 9-5 but at various times of the day and that’s fine because now I have the flexibility and love it.

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