The PR agent as trusted counsellor and mentor

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Last week, the US edition of PR Week published its annual Editors’ Choice lists including Editors’ Choice 2010: Who to watch (subscription login required), a look at individuals and PR firms the magazine’s editors predict “will make headlines in 2010.”

The five PR firms in the list of agencies to watch in 2010 begins with WeissComm (WCG for short), the agency I joined in October here in the UK.

Perhaps not surprisingly, PR Week’s assessment of WCG is exactly how I see it, especially on being counsellors, strategists and advisers as opposed to simply ‘PR consultants’:

[…] WeissComm, once a traditional healthcare PR shop, used 2009 to expand its offerings further into social media and creative services through a number of acquisitions and hires. It says it expects revenues for 2009 to increase 40% year-over-year.

[…] With its integrated offerings, the firm is more than poised to take the lead as a counselor and strategist on issues relating to the FDA’s policy on online communications, healthcare reform, new technology, and the growing consumer health sector.

If the FDA develops guidance for social media and online communications, the firm, which has been a key partner in developing social media strategies for some of the largest pharma companies, can guide its clients through changes as a true adviser.

Large organizations, especially those with operations in different countries, require a great deal from their external advisers. The ability of those advisers to genuinely understand their client’s business, their business objectives and related issues – including those of organization structures and cultures – that may well be different from market to market are the first things that comes to my mind.

In my view (and experience), such things are key to the “reverse osmosis” process of informing the adviser in his or her own thinking on the most effective ways to support the client’s business objectives especially related to the client’s online presence and use of social media.

Literally every day there’s more data to sift through, requiring ever more precision on understanding meaning. To me, that means, guidance, training and mentoring are the new imperatives in the relationship between client and adviser.

Bottom line: whatever their industry, clients will always need trusted counsel.

My colleague Paul Dyer has written about PR Week’s 2010 predictions on the WCG blog. I’ll emulate Paul in mentioning the other four agencies in PR Week’s look ahead into 2010 – great firms, too, with some great people, let’s be transparent and objective!

Here’s the list of firms in the order PR Week mentions them:

And here’s looking at everyone!

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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