So you’re ready to hire a PR firm. Obviously your agency decision will be based on very tangible factors such as strategy, location and—most likely—price. But beyond the numbers and the three-month plan, having the right people on your PR account team is the true predictor of a successful relationship.
Hiring an agency, of course, is a lot like picking a husband or wife…minus the four years of college sweetheart dating. So given the limited time to play the field, you’ll need a more standard benchmark for whom to look for in an ideal account team.
Thanks to Quentin Tarantino’s timeless masterpiece, “Pulp Fiction,” we have one.
Within the film’s motley crew of formally dressed hit men, misguided athletes and haphazard criminals, you’ll find the core traits that any winning PR team should have:
• Bruce Willis, a.k.a. “The multitasker”:
Willis’ Butch Coolidge is more than just an amateur boxer. Between disobeying mob bosses, appeasing a naïve girlfriend, and keeping a close eye on a very important family heirloom, he knows no downtime, but manages to stay alive. If the members on your account team don’t have at least a little bit of Butch in them, you’ve been warned. Pitching a white paper and a data study in conjunction with press release drafts and a bylined article—all in 48 hours—wouldn’t intimidate Butch, and it shouldn’t scare off your PR team.
• John Travolta, a.k.a. “The loyalist”:
Travolta’s Vincent Vega may be the silent, brooding type but he knows where his allegiance lies. You will probably never call upon your PR team to entertain your spouse while you’re out of town, but you want the comfort of knowing that your media relations ship will stay afloat when you’re on PTO. Plus, having team members with tidbits of seemingly random knowledge on hand (like what the French call a Big Mac) always helps from a creative standpoint.
• Samuel L. Jackson, aka “The orator”:
Most of the work your PR team does will be writing, but a brilliant speaker is an invaluable asset. Just like Samuel L.’s Jules could throw down about a fast food burger or the ethics of eating bacon, someone on your PR team should be able to eloquently turn your brand messaging into verbiage worthy of an editor’s time. He or she should be able to sound like the media expert they are when prepping your business executives before that phone interview with The Wall Street Journal
. It’s all in the delivery.
• Harvey Keitel aka “Mr. Fix-It”:
No one wants to have to call on Winston Wolf, but at one time or another, you need someone who can solve problems – preferably with speed, tranquility, and finesse. Crisis communications is an art. While you may not literally need your PR guru to dispose of bodies from the back seat of your car, you may be faced with a situation that requires reputation damage control from all sides. This person should be fearless in the face of the most pessimistic editors, and undaunted by the accidental public slip of off-the-record information. Apparent craftiness in him or her is a good sign.
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As you can see (and as Tarantino intended), this is a varied bunch. Variety can make for both a thrilling plotline and an equally exhilarating PR campaign. If your account team encompasses at least the core traits of Quentin’s most colorful characters (minus the violence and crime-ridden day jobs), rest assured, you’re in good hands.
A version of this story originally ran on the Walker Sand's blog, Footprints.