What makes a great PR leader?

Leadership is a skill separate from managing accounts and communications, yet people who are good at those things often get promoted. Maybe that’s not the best approach.

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A PR agency senior account executive dies and appears before St. Peter, who is astonished to see the AE’s good and bad deeds are in perfect balance. With no clear destination for the AE, St. Peter decides to let him choose for himself after a tour of both heaven and hell. Heaven proves to be serene and peaceful, but dull. Hell, on the other hand, is one big party, the best of Vegas and New Orleans rolled into one. The AE reports back to St. Peter that he has opted for hell, and St. Peter dispatches him there. Upon arrival, the AE sees the hell now is nothing more than tormented souls writing in fire and brimstone. The AE tracks down Satan and complains that Hell is not at all what he had seen on the tour the day before. “Well, of course,” Satan tells him. “Yesterday you were a prospect. Today you’re a client.”

A lot of PR agency clients will nod knowingly in agreement with this joke. When pitched, the agency sends its superstars, the senior-most people with long track records of great work. Once they have signed on the bottom line, though, the client never sees those superstars again, as younger, less experienced account managers and writers take over the work.

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