Laura Petrolino

How PR Pros Can Overcome These Six Common Struggles

By: Laura Petrolino | April 17, 2017 | 
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How PR Pros can Overcome These Six Common StrugglesThe other day I caught up with my super smart friend David Lee , and we got on the topic of the biggest struggles service organizations, specifically communications and PR pros, face.

We narrowed it down to a few main issues:

Many of these issues are echoed in The 2017 State of the Independent PR Pro Industry Report.

Most also tie-in together.

Which is great, because they can be drilled down to a few major root causes—habits, which need to be adjusted.

But also not so great, because if those things are ignored, they will only continue to worsen.

Can Your Business Run Without You?

Last year our entire team read Built to Sell.

It’s an excellent book to help us realign our perspective on the role of a service firm.

It nails many of the traps PR pros fall into.

Pitfalls that cause the struggles listed above.

While all businesses and business owners struggle to create a business that can run without them, service firms are most vulnerable to this business stumping trap.

Why?

Because we sell a “service” not a product.

And services are highly people dependent.

Products, on the other hand, are deliverable dependent.

  • Have you ever had a client only want to work with you?
  • Do you feel you have to do everything yourself?
  • You think about hiring people to help you, but figure you are the only one that can really deliver value to a client?
  • Do clients get angry or feel slighted if you have someone else on your team (even someone perfectly capable) manage their campaigns?

The Service Firm Trap

Built to Sell helps you realign your business to sell products, not services.

By doing so you can scale your business because it no longer is dependent only on you (and/or a small team of service leaders in your organization).

One important thing to remember: There is a big difference between scale and growth.

Scale is about adding revenue.

Growth is about adding resources, resources that drain revenue.

What’s the point of landing a huge client, if any additional revenue goes to hiring a team to manage them?

Often PR pros will do just that, only to find they actually lose money.

Things that aren’t goals: Less money. More work.

PR Pros Must Delegate Their Way to Success

One of the biggest take aways from the PR Pro Industry Report, is communications and PR pros don’t do business development (you know, that kind of important thing which brings you clients to keep your business running….) because they don’t have time.

More than 40 percent don’t prioritize business development because you don’t have time.

Why don’t you have time?

Because you feel like you need to do everything on your own.

  • You created a business that is reliant on you and you alone.
  • Your clients love you (which is great), but see only you and your skills as the valuable component of the business relationship.
  • You can’t train a team to take over tasks because the business is so highly dependent on the skills you bring to the table.
  • Your ego prevents you from proper delegation.
  • You spend all the time working in the business and don’t have any left over to work on the business.
  • Your revenue stream is reliant on one or two major clients or projects. You over-service out of fear you’ll lose them and, in turn, lose your business.

And so, while you are spinning your wheels acting like a superhero (as Chris Ducker calls it in Virtual Freedom), you trap yourself in a vicious cycle.

You must learn to delegate.

Either to an in-house team or a virtual one.

You’ll never escape the time trap if you don’t outline the tasks you either shouldn’t do, don’t want to do, or aren’t good at, and give them to someone else.

Delegation is not an easy process, especially for people (as I’m sure many of you are), who are used to doing everything themselves (see my delegation guide for control freaks).

But it’s a key component to salvation from the common service business pitfalls we listed above.

Change Your Habits. Change Your Business.

As humans, one of our biggest struggles is the desire to change a situation, but refusal to change a habit that contributes to the situation.

We are comfortable in our patterns. Our habits feel safe. We’ve “always done it this way.”

How many times have you wanted to start an exercise program, or eat a healthier diet?

But six months down the line find you’ve only made it to the gym twice and maybe eaten a few apples?

Why?

  • No time to go to the gym.
  • You tried to eat healthy, but were hungry and couldn’t plan ahead
  • Grabbing a (enter your vice) for breakfast vs. making something more appropriate.
  • You were so busy, you couldn’t go for that evening walk.

None of these things are facts.

What is a fact is you DO have fifteen minutes to go for a walk in the evening, or a half an hour to spend in the gym.

But you DON’T change your habits to make time and eat right.

Habits control your goals.

The same is true for your business.

So if you want to change, scale, improve your business and professional situation, the first place you need to look are your habits.

It won’t be comfortable, but it will be worthwhile.

P.S. There is still time to sign up for our free bootcamp: “The Content Secret to Close More Clients,” which is a great first step to give you a plan to change your current business development habits (or lack there of), and drive inbound leads and revenue.

Sign up, then go eat an apple.

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks.

  • Mike Connell

    This hit home: “Delegation is not an easy process, especially for people (as I’m sure many of you are), who are used to doing everything themselves.” I’m off to read your guide for control freaks next! This can be, clearly, very difficult for solopreneurs, but I think it still makes a huge amount of sense to, as you suggest, outline the tasks I don’t want to do, shouldn’t do, that I’m not good at, etc. That list will be enlightening. And possibly depressing 😉

    • Haha! It’s definitely both. And as you delegate and see people can do things just fine without you, you have to put your ego aside and realize this was the goal in the first places. But it’s a process.

  • I love that you clearly explain scale vs. growth.

    It’s the difference between success and failure.

    It’s hard to change habits, scratch that. It’s very hard! I found prioritization is huge when changing habits and ways of thinking.

    But not any kind of prioritization, under pressure prioritization.

    E.g.: I ask myself if a crisis would strike tomorrow, what are three things I must accomplish no matter what? Then I go further: What are the least important things on my list? Next, what free time have I managed to save so far?

    Sometimes not giving yourself a choice is the way to go.

    Great tips, Laura!

    • That’s a great way to break it down. I also outline the two to three things each day I MUST get done. It is a great way to stay focused when you have a never-ending to do list.

  • I love the line, “It won’t be comfortable, but it will be worthwhile.” I think there is a tendency to think change should be easy. We think, “If they can do it, why can’t I?” Well yes, but they probably had months or years of practice and persistence that you didn’t see.

    • Yes, we tend to judge ourselves based on an EXTREMELY filtered version of other’s success. Behind every success is five million failures, big and small.

      The comfort thing is a big rant of mine right now. I’m not sure where the idea that life and accomplishment should be comfortable started, but it’s not, nor should it be. Show me a person who’s never uncomfortable and I’ll show you someone who never comes close to reaching their potential. The struggle is part of the fun, we need to stop trying to remove it.

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