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Confessions of a PR Consultant

'Consumer not a moron, she's your wife'

A PR man responds to our Confessions story on a PR consultant published last week

I Read Confessions Of A PR Consultant last week with amusement and amazement.

First, hiding behind the cloak of anonymity is not my kind of PR. I am Tang Li (my real name and real picture, left).

My e-mail address is li@bang.com.sg (real e-mail). You can leave hate messages, if you want.

What kind of PR consultant talks about wearing a fake smile? And how does one complain about charging clients as low as $1,000 and spending afternoons in the gym instead of chasing more business?

I have a name for such people - Public Runners.

PR is more than just spending time at parties.

I do admit that PR practitioners have to walk through a minefiled of egos between clients chasing their commercial interests and media chasing a good story. But then again, name me a job without challenges.

And what organisation does not have its share of egos?

A real PR consultant can't afford to be fake. What client would allow a fake to represent them to the media and the public? And a newsman worth his salt would never deal with source that is fake. Call me an idealist, but a real PR man needs to enjoy dealing with both client and media.

Sure, you won't like everybody all the time. But that's life!

A PR consultant needs to be controlled at all times, never fake. Advertising guru David Ogilvy once said: "The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife."

Likewise, the media and clients are the wives of the PR man. Like all matrimonial relationships, there will be ups and downs. Of course, if the downs get too much, then there is always "divorce".

Runners Don't Get It

PR is about relationship, relationship and relationship. And runners don't get it.

A relationship has to work both ways. There's got to be something in it for all parties.

And since the product is ultimately intangible, the real PR man needs to have flair for coming up with something at the right time and right place.

Take the opening of a shop. How interesting can that be? Go to one, you've gone to the lot.

The shop owner wants free advertising. The media is bored.

Suddenly, the PR consultant comes along and tells a story about how many jobs the shop will create.

Now, that's a story, and he's created two relationships.

Often, PR consultants show their value when things go wrong.

Look at what happens when a drug is found to cause cancer.

The PR consultant comes in and helps respond.

Sometimes you've got to show people you were set up. Other times you say sorry.

With the help of the PR man, companies can emerge stronger from major crises.

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