Guest Post: What’s Good for Clients is Also Good for PR Firms

After Dow Jones analyzed which firms got the most traditional media coverage in 2010, the info zipped around the Twittersphere. Also, the question of whether it was a good thing for a firm to get its own media coverage arose, with nearly two-thirds of respondents to our PRNewser Poll saying it’s a positive thing.

One industry exec who definitely believes it’s a positive is Aaron Kwittken, CEO and founder of Kwittken + Company. In today’s guest post, Kwittken talks about why the firm launched its own PR program and why other firms should as well. Feel free to share your thoughts on the subject in the comments.

Why PR Agencies Should Eat Their Own Dog Food

When Dow Jones recently released its media analysis of the public relations industry, the organization not only successfully increased awareness of its industry insights tool, but also stirred a healthy debate among PR pros – the equivalent of taking both games of a day/night doubleheader.

Whether PR agencies should dedicate internal resources to proactively generate positive media coverage on their own has often been a topic of debate throughout my 20-year career. Some question whether PR pros should even step out from behind the curtain and contest if the resulting media exposure is worth the investment or ultimately has a measurable impact on the agency (sound familiar?). Some firms are simply too large or scared to comment for fear of jeopardizing current or future business.

I happen to be a staunch advocate that when executed intelligently, earned media for PR agencies and their professional subject matter experts is beneficial not only to that individual agency, but to the industry as a whole and greater business community overall.

While a significant amount of thought went into kwittken + company’s decision to increase agency resources devoted to the firm’s own public relations efforts last year, we believe that the subsequent execution of a formalized PR plan and the resulting media coverage has proven beneficial to both our business and the industry.

A Seat at the Table and in the Studio

While our industry is still relatively young, public relations executives have quickly earned their seat not only at the marketing table, but also in the C-suite, providing valuable counsel and guidance from both a reputation and brand management standpoint. Thought leadership and expert commentary on newsworthy and timely issues like the challenges faced by BP, Toyota and Goldman last year further demonstrate in a more transparent manner how our discipline plays a vital role in managing and protecting the interests of clients’ stakeholders.

The pressure for an increased level of corporate disclosure and transparency, combined with the C-suite’s growing dependence on strategic PR counsel will likely foster even more interest from media to call upon PR professionals to comment on pressing and timely issues.

Players Make Great Coaches

The concept here is simple. Who would you rather take golf advice from – Fred Funk or Fred, your next door neighbor? With “executive communications coaching” services in high demand these days being on the receiving end of a reporter’s or anchor’s questions helps keep our media training and spokesperson skills sharp, allowing us to uncover and highlight for our clients the subtleties that are inherent—though not always apparent—when being interviewed, particularly by broadcast reporters.

“I’m not only the president, I’m also a client”

As passionate as I am about our craft and delivering business-building results to our growing client roster, I am just as dedicated to building a profitable business. While the latter is certainly dependent on the former, it allows my executive team and me the opportunity to employ and mentor some of the brightest industry talent while continuing to hone our own skills through hands on work with our client partners – possibly the most rewarding aspect of it all.

While it’s true that every PR firm has its own priorities, having these resources available to us provides us with the opportunity to leverage them to increase our exposure and brand ourselves as thought leaders and skilled communicators. If this exposure is good for our clients then it must be good for us too.