Every communications professional, regardless of the industry they work in, has experienced this: a colleague or client comes to us requesting a brochure, or a Facebook page, or a website, or a Twitter feed, etc. My former supervisor Lorna Christie calls that an order-taking mentality. “And did you ask if they wanted fries with that?” she’d ask us. Her point was clear: good communications pros aren’t order takers — we are counselors.
A PR order taker responds by delivering a perfectly good brochure/Facebook page/website/Twitter feed, on time, with a smile. On the other hand, a PR counselor responds by asking the “I want a [fill in the blank]” requester to sit down and talk some more. What’s the driving need — who are you trying to reach, why, and how does that support the company’s goals and objectives? What should our strategy be for aligning all those factors? Then there can have a discussion about which tactics and tools best fit the situation.
So it’s not just about filling an order to satisfy a momentary hunger, rather it’s about the finding the best communications diet and lifestyle for your business’ long-term health.
Being a counselor rather than an order taker can be tough to pull off. The typical comm pro has lots of varied and diverse balls in the air at any given time, and having that more in-depth conversation requires precious time and energy. But in the long run, the counselor makes the best use of always limited resources, and best serves the organization’s overall needs. Meanwhile, the order taker’s life is more hectic and fractured because there’s never enough ketchup.