PR Lessons from running an agency

5 PR Lessons Learned from Running My Own Agency

I was a seasoned public relations practitioner when I founded Prosper for Purpose in January 2013. I had more than 25 years of experience working for small businesses and large corporations, nonprofits and educational institutions. I’d been part of two in-house agencies; the first at a newspaper early in my career and 20 years later at a national retail chain. But in running my own firm, I learned a lot about what has really changed in my field, as well as which key PR lessons have remained the same.

What Has Changed

  • The PR toolkit. When I was in my last corporate job, content creation, social media and guest services became part of my responsibilities. And in all my nonprofit roles, fundraising and events management played a role. Thank goodness. Most of my firm’s clients want their public relations strategists to consider, if not include, every major tool for relationship building, not just the traditional ones. You don’t need to be an expert, but you need to know how the tools can work together to achieve your client’s goals.
  • Media relations. Really, what hasn’t changed in media relations? Fewer reporters, many of whom work part-time at multiple outlets, means it is more challenging than ever to get your story told. While telling the right story to the right journalist is still key, we have found success through helping journalists more easily tell our clients’ stories by providing digital assets, often housed in online press rooms, where they can download everything from photos and logos to videos and bios. 
  • Measuring results. Measuring the impact of PR used to be as challenging as herding cats. In the past five years, a plethora of tools have emerged, from PR management software that helps professionals see which tactics are driving engagement, to the insights provided on the back end of social media platforms. Demonstrating measurable results builds trust between an agency and its clients as it helps clients justify their investment. It also helps practitioners learn and grow. 

What Has Not Changed

  • You need the write stuff.  Most public relations activities involve the written word, whether in a press release, an email or online content. Here’s the bad news: if you are not a strong writer, it will be difficult to become a strong PR practitioner. The good news is that writing is a skill that can be practiced and improved. There are many great resources available through PRSA. There are also a great many books, articles, classes and online videos on writing. Mentors are another great resource.
  • It’s all about relationships of mutual value. Of all the PR lessons we’ve learned over the years, this may be the most important one. Public relations has always been about building relationships, but sometimes it seems the aspect of mutual value is overlooked. No one cares how great you are. They care how great you can help them be. Communicating value, true value, in authentic and compelling ways remains the best way to ensure a client’s success, as well as the success of your agency. 

Master these PR lessons and you’ll take both your practice and your client success to the next level.

What do you feel has changed in the PR industry? Comment below or email us at

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