Mitigate the Drama and Put Your Agency on an Even Keel

When clients freak out, PR pros have to keep their cool. It’s one of the most important attributes that successful PR execs bring to the table. They have to be the voice of reason. They have to reduce the client’s drama and put things back on an even keel. But when PR managers get back to the shop, they’re likely to confront all kinds of drama.

There’s politics, of course, which are hard to avoid even among companies with few employees. Then there are folks who are unhappy with their clients, frustrated by their salary or at their wit’s end because they cannot get IT to properly fix their computer problems. Each agency is different, but most agencies are susceptible to in-house drama of one kind or another.

Mary Gardner: "People need to swim together."
Mary Gardner: “People need to swim together.”

So we asked Mary “MG” Gardner, who runs coaching and training company Mary Gardner Communications LLC (Orlando, Fla.), for a few tips on how agency owners and managers can mitigate the drama and strictly focus on the business (and have a bit of fun).

> Develop a culture of inspiration.

The inspiration should come from the tippy-top, but if agency owners are too numbers-driven then individual managers must fill the void, Gardner said. Managers need to inspire their employees to create more collaboration and create goals that are bigger than the agency itself. “It can’t just be about how to retain employees,” Gardner said. “The challenge has to run deeper, and be personally meaningful.”

> Keep the mission fresh. “Team building,” Gardner said, is a function of keeping the mission fresh. “People need to swim together and create something that’s magical and amazing,” she said. ”It’s not just going from point to another, but how to identify a team purpose and understand personality traits and how they best work together.” She added, “We are all living in chaotic times. Staying positive in a constant mission and takes frequent attention.”

> Create words that inspire. Words matter. Senior managers and their employees need to come together as a team to develop and choose words that define collaboration, success and empowerment. Managers need to ask their employees: Who do we want to be? “You know what happens sometime when people meet and someone offers a negative critique,” Gardner said. “It feeds on itself and that creates drama. You have to find those words that empower people, because our words create our reality.”

By Matthew Schwartz, editorial director