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.


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?


  • 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.

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

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