PR Agencies Through the Looking Glass

Jennifer Casani-Headshot
Jennifer A. Kamalei Schafer Casani

Similar to the nonsensical literary theme found in the 1871 sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the direction of the current economic landscape is quite distorted. It is only after completing Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass that the reader can make sense of the varied themes and plot devices.

Unfortunately, people working in the PR profession do not yet have the benefit of being at the end of our present economic story. We won’t have the luxury of fully understanding the situation until the current chapter fully unfolds and we enter a new phase. For now, and despite the recent spate of PR agency deals, the economic outlook remains decidedly uncertain.

So, then, how do senior PR executives and agency owners polish the lens of their own looking glass with which to tell their company’s tale?  By regaining focus on what truly matters. Here’s how:

1. Focus on your strategic and business plans. These two tools are vital elements for your firm’s story. They are like your book chapters and explain how your story unfolds. Make sure these two plans are revised yearly (or more frequently, as financial factors dictate. Get them in writing; it’s not good enough to have them in your head. PR firms with concrete strategic and business plans are valued higher, in terms of dollars and desirability among potential suitors.

2. Focus on your personal plan. Do you still have the wherewithal that PR entrepreneurship requires? Or have you lost the fire in the belly needed to grow your own business? Be clear about your personal motivation for owning your own shop, and that fits within your firm’s strategic and business plans.

3. Focus on your financials. As a PR firm owner you are the author, not the ghostwriter. Be personally cognizant of (and accountable for) what your current numbers mean and how they explain your business. Up-to-date and correct financials are like time saving, chapter summaries. Interpret and apply your balance sheet, income statement, statement of cash flows, client roster, employee productivity report, etc., in conjunction with industry benchmarks.  Doing so will ensure your expenses and operations are in-line with the desired outcome of your firm’s storyline.

The bottom line, work smarter, not harder, on those things you can control. Seek out advisors for those business areas of expertise where you fall short. Taken together, these items will help you navigate the twists and stomach wrenching turns that are part of the plot of today’s ongoing financial saga.

What components would you add to the list?

Jennifer A. Kamalei Schafer Casani is a partner with Gould+Partners.  She can be reached at [email protected].