I give it a year

It’s that time of year when we all take stock and then look ahead at what might come next. I’ve just done the same process, while archiving old notes from previous PR Coaching and mentoring sessions.

What a surprise to find that I’ve already helped 40 professionals across at least a dozen industries. Originally introduced as my temporary Covid lockdown “side hustle”, by popular demand PR Coaching will remain on the menu of services at Affinity PR. I remember saying to myself back then, “I’ll give it a year to see if there is any interest”.

Who has used my PR Coaching service?

What I can tell you is that many clients were self-employed. Often founders of their own business or organisation, almost all in senior leadership roles. Generally, most took overall responsibility for marketing decision-making, even if those tasks were then outsourced to a colleague, a retained PR agency or a consultant. Just a few clients had marketing qualifications or had industry-applied PR knowledge, with most very well qualified in their own industry or profession. Geographically, London and East of England were the top two regions where their businesses were located.

A couple of clients needed just one coaching session and then felt ready to get going, but most people needed 3 or 4 sessions, with a couple of longer-term clients preferring to check in every month to plan their next steps.

All this information was so welcome, to know that my original business idea had worked. By keeping this PR coaching service simple and by making it accessible (online via Zoom) and affordable (no contractual tie-ins), it gave clients complete freedom to choose what and when to learn.

Let’s talk about vulnerability.

Another surprising trend emerged from reviewing last year’s notes. It was how frequently I was sworn to secrecy that I’d coached or mentored someone (one reason why I cannot show every client’s testimonial and outcomes on my website or Linked In page). As it happens, client confidentiality is a given within my business, but why might you want secrecy around your own PR Coaching and learning?

Well, now I appreciate how lucky I am to work in an industry where learning new things and exploring fresh ideas are viewed as vital to creativity. This year I discovered that in many other industries it is still unacceptable to admit you don’t know everything or (*shock*horror*) aren’t naturally gifted at everything! Any display of ignorance could jeopardise your perceived authority and credibility as a leader, and in some cases that could also affect your own career prospects or the shareholder value. Huge money is at stake.

However, the result is so many evidently capable professionals living in fear of revealing a gap in their own skillset. They feel vulnerable to scrutiny and being “found out”. It’s why some clients felt safer exploring PR learning one-to-one, rather than under the gaze of co-workers or Board members at an employer-sourced or industry-related PR skills training course.

By one-to-one working I was able to help an excellent media professional to prepare for an important meeting and for a job interview, because they felt able to ask me anything about PR decision making that they felt they “should” know. I was also able to help a global industry leader to drill down and explore their CRM database and sales data in detail, revealing exactly where to focus most of their marketing efforts and what messaging to use to convert the identified warmest leads into clients who could easily spend £50k+ each year.

The most stated PR goal at the outset was “I want to know how to put together a PR campaign that will support our sales targets”. Others wanted a professional second opinion on their own or their brand’s reputation, and an action list on how they could make improvements. Many wanted to prepare for important events, such as forthcoming live broadcast interviews, speaker engagements or public appearances (including auditions, performances, talks etc). There was lots of curiosity about how “industry experts on the telly” get booked and how trade show keynote speakers are selected. Some specifically wanted to “up their game” in competitive pitching meetings, or with their grant/tender written applications. As each season unfolded, there were many other frequently asked questions too.

The year ahead.

Here’s to a happy and productive new year. May we all stay working, safely.

If 2022 is the year you are going to Get Things Done, book a session with me. You can also hire me afterwards to do the PR work for you, and at a preferential rate.

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