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The three types of PR consultant | Morgan McLintic on Communications

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The three types of PR consultant

Agency life, PR — By on July 6, 2006 8:56 am

There are three general types of PR consultant:

1. The Media Pitcher - is great at selling a story. They’re the ones who get the ink. They have the connections, they have strong people skills, fascinating to talk to, conversant on a range of topics, persuasive, engaging, strong sense of humor, rich voice with a range of intonation, nicely measured pace, and can really spot a story. Pitchers love the media and keeping on the pulse of the industry. Give a Pitcher a story and they’ll run with it – never happier than on the phone or in the bar with reporters.

The main challenges for Pitchers tend to be their organization, their team work and their ability to spot potential issues with clients.

2. The Writer – is a copy expert. Give a Writer a topic, some supporting bullet points and sources of further research, and she’ll turn in crisp, engaging copy to the exact length. A Writer is a polymath, interested in a range of topics, deeply considered, has an interesting perspective, a good turn of phrase, broad vocabulary, and an eagle-eye for grammar and syntax. A Writer has the ability to hammer out copy with single obsession despite noise and banter around them without distraction. She naturally spots a story and is able to weave in messages seamlessly. Writers also like feedback on their copy to hone and refine it, as long as it stays sharp. Writers create the ammunition for a PR campaign.

The main challenges for Writers tend to be their time management (when they’re in the zone), their interpersonal skills and ability to balance multiple projects simultaneously.

3. The Client Manager – has a sixth sense when it comes to client management. The Client Manager simply understands and can anticipate the client’s needs and expectations. Client Managers are able to build strong relationships with clients, ones which are long term, can weather the highs and lows of a campaign and often border on personal friendship. Client Managers really care for their clients, are compassionate, extremely organized, articulate, planned, deadline-oritented and good team leaders. Client Managers are capable of absorbing huge amounts of granular detail and tracking progress across several campaigns. These are the guys who keep clients happy and the PR campaign on track.

The main challenges for Client Managers tend to be in keeping an external perspective from the client, pitching the press and creativity.

Most PR consultants excel in one of these three areas. The good ones have strengths across two and occasionally all three. Considering which you are will help develop your skills within your agency into other areas. Or focusing on one to become a real expert can help in interview situations – there will always be positions in agencies for strong Media Pitchers, or excellent Writers, or people who can hold down clients.

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  • http://www.marktd.com/story/1542/ Anonymous

    The three types of PR consultant

    which one are you??

  • http://dancethecollapse.blogspot.com Owen

    #2. Me to an exact T.
    I guess that means I should work on #1 strenuously and #3 when I get any opportunity.
    The problem with #1 is my voice. I have a hard time communicating over the phone because of my voice. Maybe I need lessons.
    Great post, Morgan.

  • http://prstudies.typepad.com Richard Bailey

    That’s great; spot on. But isn’t there a fourth type? The new business winner. A consummate networker and persuasive pitcher who prefers the buzz of chasing new business to the drudgery of day-to-day account work (and is scarcely seen by the client between the pitch and the account review meeting).

  • http://overtonecomm.blogspot.com/ Kami Huyse

    Morgan; Great post and funny. I am a mix of one and two, but could use some work on three. I am sure there are other categories, but this reminds me of the Myers Briggs of PR. :-)

  • http://www.ideagrove.com/blog scott

    Cool exercise.
    I’d add “The Strategist” — the person who can look at a company’s situation and sum up how it should package itself for the world in minutes. Usually, the strategist issues marching order to the Media Pitcher and the Writer.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/amildandpleasantbuzz/ amildandpleasantbuzz

    Agree with richard baily and scott, for a 4th type ‘strategist’ type that has the panache of winning over the client as well — especially early on for new business. The potential challenges would be closer to #1 and #2… Still fantastic and insightful post!

  • http://www.flackfolio.blogharbor.com Jessica

    This is fantastic! I’m a grad student in PR who is very new to the field and this post helps me to identify which type I most closely resemble and what to work on to become well rounded. Good as a guideline for pitching myself in an interview too! Thanks!

  • http://www.alanweinkrantz.typepad.com Alan Weinkrantz

    Morgan,
    Are you referring to a “consultant” as an individual or a firm? You make it sound like in your post that we as individuals or firms only have one skill set….

  • H. C.

    Interesting typology — I’d align myself more as a #1 or #2 (since working in-house, I don’t really respond to clients asides from my higher-ups ~ though that’d be something I want to do more of should I ever jump back into agency life). The only one I may add would be “Researcher” – who may not be necessarily great writing, pitching or client interfacing, but excellent at finding out relevant information and details (and usually pretty fast.) Of course, the downside to this “typology” is that often in their pitches/releases/reports they tend to cram way too much information in, making for very tedious reads and speeches.

  • Minni

    Im number 1 and a bit of 3 :)


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