PR Executive at The Hoffman Agency Singapore
This article was originally published on PR Daily in July 2016.
“Play the man, not the odds,” Harvey Specter says in countless episodes of the riveting law-drama, “Suits.”
Although the worlds of law and public relations might seem different, they have plenty of similarities. For instance, both industries are client-focused: Consultants provide strategic counsel and position their clients in a good light within a fast-paced, ever-changing professional environment.
PR practitioners can pick up a tip or two from the popular drama. Here are some lessons that even Specter would approve of:
1. Master the art of reading people.
Specter plays poker. That’s how he got so good at reading people.
It’s an important skill. People are always giving out tiny signals. If you can catch them and use them to your advantage, you will be extremely successful in PR. Learn to predict what others are going to do before they do it.
The PR industry involves a lot of persuasion. Whether it’s crafting a pitch, meeting up with journalists or making a phone call, think of yourself as a charismatic salesman. To forge a connection, you must master the art of reading people—including media contacts.
If you’re able to pick up signals like their body language, eye contact and posture, it will help you determine how comfortable the journalist is around you.
Also, do research on journalists before any meeting, and consider what they like to do in their free time. Reading up on their previous articles will make for a good conversation starter.
2. Forget tradition, embrace unconventionality.
When Rachel Zane’s verbal agreement with Louis Litt (for a 10 percent raise and university tuition) fell through, she took matters into her own hands. She drew up her own contracts and persuaded senior partner Jessica Pearson to invest in her education, in part by showcasing all the cases she’d won over the previous few years.
PR consultants must be open to new ways of doing things. This will maximize your returns and keep you a step ahead. The breadth of required PR skills and traits is being redefined all the time.
Successful leaders need attributes like adaptability, flexibility and a thirst for knowledge. Today’s consultants must learn continually—from everyone on their team.
3. Study, learn and know your competition.
Rarely do Harvey and Mike show up to a courtroom unprepared. They try to anticipate every possible scenario and always have backup documents in case their competitor pulls a fast one.
Life is a game of chess, and you must stay a few steps ahead of the competition. Learn about your clients’ competitors, and anticipate their moves.
To increase your client’s business, you must analyze their competitors to get and keep the upper hand. Mine their rivals’ strategies and marketing efforts for ideas about how you can improve your client’s product or services. No detail is too small, and no task is too menial, especially when it comes to besting your clients’ competitors.