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Qualities of a Good PR Leader?
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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In the Harvard Business Review blog network, Dorie Clark recently wrote a blog about transparency being the new leadership imperative. The blog on HBR’s blogsite clearly refers to business leadership rather than specifically to public relations, but I think (personally) there is wisdom here for all of us.

Here is what Dorie said about leaders: “The harder, but more rewarding, path as a leader is to make yourself known — to your employees, your customers, and the public.” She then went on to enumerate three reasons for transparency to become or be the new imperative:

To know you is to love you.” This statement should be self-explanatory. Dorie noted, “you want your employees to at least like you and understand where you're coming from — because, as copious research has shown, money isn't a good motivational tool. Rather, what will make them go above and beyond is their relationship and loyalty to you — and you'll never get that if you don't let them know you as a person. (Customers, being human, also like to form relationships with real people, not just faceless organizations.) Lunch meetings and feedback sessions are a great place to start, and if you're managing across continents or your workforce is simply too large, don't underestimate the power of video. Your personality and enthusiasm can come through just as clearly on YouTube.” For us as PR professionals, there is much to learn here. Our passion for our clients can equally shine through use of social media and marketing tools such as YouTube as well as our taking the time to form relationships with those in our professional business networks, whatever they are.

“Transparency is brand insurance.” Dorie used an example of a former CEO of a hospital who, though caught in unprofessional behavior, used his many thousands of blogs about running a hospital to build up a reservoir of goodwill. As PR professionals, if we can share the upbeat times, the not-so-good times, and the warts as well as the beauty of our craft, we can garner not only respect for our efforts but also continuing platforms to stay in the mix. We can all learn from each other.

“You attract like-minded talent.” No secret about it. People like to be where things are happening and where there is excitement. As Dorie noted, “If you're a company with a unique set of corporate values (think Zappos), you can broadcast your culture and draw in people who think they'd be a fit. And if you're a venture capitalist — whose livelihood depends on scouting new talent and forging close ties with the best — then it's especially important to show people who you are, how you think, and what you're looking for. That's what happened for Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, whose blog has been a powerful magnet, enabling him to invest in hot deals early. Each post draws at least 100 comments — sometimes closer to 400 — and has positioned him, 3000 miles away from Silicon Valley, as an industry thought leader.” Corollary to her comments, what can we (or do we) as PR professionals do to attract like-minded talent and like-minded clients for our organizations and agencies?

The HBR blog concluded with the following powerful thoughts, which take little editing to be relevant for all PR matters:

“Whether it's in person (through speeches, meetings, or one-on-one interactions) or leveraging social media, it's more essential than ever for leaders to embrace transparency. Employees, customers, and shareholders need to understand your vision, your values, and your approach. That doesn't mean putting on an aura of mystique, because if it's not coming naturally, people can see through it. Instead, the new leadership imperative is to make yourself known. What kind of leaders do you think we need? How are you making yourself known to your colleagues, employees, and customers? What results are you seeing?”

Amen to that!


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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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