PR Agency leaders: Paid leave isn’t about you

By Kate Snyder, APR

In the past year, team members at our eight-person PR agency welcomed two – count ‘em, two – babies to the world. Which means in the span of 12 months, the Piper & Gold family survived two maternity leaves, including my own. 

I was convinced that, as an agency owner, it would be impossible to take more than two weeks off after having a baby. I thought, if I can just get the first two weeks, then I can start checking emails, maybe taking a phone call here or there. I wasn’t sure if I’d want more time out of the office or if I’d be ready to head back, but I didn’t believe I had options, so it didn’t really matter.

Facing and Embracing Risk in Your PR Agency’s Growth Strategy

First, where do you lie on the risk continuum. Are you risk tolerant? Or risk averse? Either way, this doesn’t impact your ability to grow your agency, but the way you do it changes.

Kate Snyder is risk averse and Heather Whaling is very risk tolerant. See how two different scaling agency leaders approach the many challenges.

If we look at the diagram above, there is a cycle to scaling your business from the leadership perspective.

    Firing PR Agency Employees: Best Practices From 11 Agency Leaders

    Firing employees is the hardest thing we, as PR professionals have to do. You've tried to make things work, you've coached them and shifted roles, but they simply aren't fitting in or working out. You want to let them go, but you need to be sure clients have been handled properly, and you are concerned about team morale. 

    How quickly should you move once you've made the decision? What kind of severance package do you offer and how do you communicate to the team and clients? 

    We asked 11 PR agency leaders what they recommend - what is their process?

    Want to do More Speaking? Get Ready for Your Close-up! 

    By Rob Biesenbach

    As leaders and business owners, many of us speak regularly at industry conferences and other events. If you’ve enjoyed some success as a speaker and want to do more of it, one of the most important things you can do is assemble a visual portfolio — photos and video of you in action. 

    Why Pictures and Video Are Essential to Your Success

    After all, pictures are said to be worth a thousand words. (You heard it here first.) And video has become absolutely vital. I’ve done more than 50 speaking engagements in the past two years and have found more and more conferences are asking for video clips as evidence of a speaker’s skills. 

    The Power of Two: Matching our passion with our work 

    One of the challenges we all face is humanizing our passions. During a Counselors Academy event I got to know CAPRSA Member Sheryl Barto, Principal of O Communications. After reviewing her Instagram feed, it was clear she was matching her passion for people with her love of horses. I asked Sheryl to share how she is involved in her community and raising awareness for our profession. Also, how appropriate that April is National Autism Month! - Tom Garrity

    In 2012 I was handling pro bono PR for the local affiliate of Light It Up Blue, an international day which shines a spotlight on autism. I have a son, who is now an adult, on the autism spectrum. One initiative for our Aspen event was to feature celebrity autism parents. Holly Robinson Peete, star of 21 Jump Street, and Rupert Isaacson, author of The Horse Boy, were parents of young boys with autism.  Wait – Horse Boy? I was a life-long, horse-obsessed girl AND I had a son on the autism spectrum. How could I have not heard of this guy? He had a book titled The Horse Boy, and an award- winning documentary by the same name, which was featured at the Sundance Film Festival.  I should also add, I really wanted to be a horse trainer when I graduated high school – but my mom wouldn’t let me. 

    Break Free of the Management Weeds and Become a Real CEO

    By George Rosenberg

    “Can you help me be a real CEO?”

    As an advisor and coach to agency owners for more than 13 years and a former agency CEO, this is a question I hear often. These ambitious and often young agency owners – many of whom typify Counselor’s Academy members -- want to grow significantly, hire and keep the best talent, manage their staffs with excellence, run a profitable firm and feel that they are indeed, successful CEOs. Who wouldn’t want to ? But it ain’t easy!

    Building a successful agency is an incredibly tough job – and an even tougher one for owners who must wear multiple hats and try to do it all. But one job is more critical than all the rest – becoming a real CEO and too many owners are forced to learn on the fly and wonder “what does it take to become a real CEO?”

    Why Cultivating Diverse Partnerships Makes Dollars & Sense 

    By LaTricia Woods, APR, Owner, Mahogany Xan Communications

    Picture this: 

    • A magazine’s staff snaps a group shot of the team making “slanty eye” faces  
    • The shooting of an African-American man by law enforcement makes national headlines and the local government hires an all-white public relations firm. Said firm is later replaced after being criticized for its lack of diversity
    • A social media platform creates a blackface lens and then creates a yellowface lens, upsetting African-American and Asian-American consumers respectively
    • Collegestudents dress up in Halloween costumes that feature various racial stereotypes and posts photos on social media

    When situations like this develop, companies may instinctually turn to a public relations firm for guidance through difficult waters. But what happens if that firm is not fully equipped to grasp the situation at hand due to a lack of cultural fluency?

    Keynote Announcement: Real-life Adventures in Collaboration with Microsoft’s Senior Product Marketing Manager

    Jon Goldberg, this year's conference chair, has announced our final keynote slot for the upcoming Spring Conference in Seattle with Kady Dundas, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft Corporation: 

    Real-life Adventures in Collaboration and Tips for Avoiding Collaboration Overload

    Are you collaborating more but getting less done? If so, you’re not alone. The time that managers and employees spend collaborating has increased by at least 50 percent over the past two decades and up to 80 percent of workers’ time is spent on collaborative activities like meetings, calls, and responding to emails. Get practical tips and advice on how to set your team up for success and learn about the latest apps that can help.

    Be Like A B: Social, fiscal and environmental responsibility

    By Indra Gardiner Bowers, Founder/Chief Executive Officer, i.d.e.a.

    There are many ways to be a socially, fiscally and environmentally responsible company. Some companies bake their mission into their product or service (think Patagonia or Method), but for many of us, our dream is to work with companies who are purposeful. 

    Three years ago, my partners and I decided we didn’t want to just work for mission-driven clients we wanted to walk the talk ourselves. We hadn’t started that way, so we had to do some reverse engineering and figure out what we could do to be part of this new sector of the economy.

    The Most Powerful Thing We Can Do to Unleash Greater Success and Joy in Life

    By Patrice Tanaka, Founder & Chief Joy Officer, Joyful Planet

    The most powerful thing I’ve ever done in my life, in terms of personal and professional development, was to discover my life’s purpose.

    When I shared it with my then-executive coach 15 years ago, it started me on an exciting and unexpected journey that continues to this day. I’ve actually accomplished more in the past 15 years since discovering and articulating my life purpose than I had in the previous 30 years – and I was no slouch in those earlier years!

    Discovering the power of purpose is what led me to leave the last of three PR and marketing agencies I co-founded – PT&Co., CRT/tanaka and PadillaCRT (now Padilla) – to focus on helping individuals and organizations discover and live their purpose and unleash greater success, fulfillment and joy in their lives, in their workplaces and in the world.