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.