How to Make it in PR

13 years, 8 months ago


Romeo P. Virtusio, editor of a recently published book on achieving success in PR, shares insights and tips in selected extracts from his nine esteemed contributors.

Charlie A. Agatep, President, Agatep Associates, Inc:

Widespread Practice of PR. The almost sudden widespread practice of PR in private companies, government bureaus and offices, and government-controlled corporations has been astonishing. This proves that there is now heightened consciousness in the private sector, as well as in government of the need on their part to give serious attention to how they are perceived by their publics, and to how they can improve their services to their customers, employees, shareholder, and the general public. There are now hundreds of these professionals serving in many types of companies and organizations in the private sector.

The reason why many companies are prone to crisis is that they do not devote any time worrying about their reputation. Their main focus is on sales and profits. They don’t think a good corporate image is necessary until they are faced with a crisis. And when a crisis looms, they think they can hire a PR agency for the duration of the crisis and junk the agency when the crisis seems to be over. As if PR were like a water faucet which you can open and close when you need water.

Regular, open and honest communication is one of the keys to building a winning brand.

Joycelyn Buensalido, President, Buensalido Public Relations:

• Love people and learn how to deal with each and every type of personality whether you like it or not. If you are not a people person, PR may not be the career for you because this is where your patience and endurance with people will be tested to the limit. When you have people working for you, you must always recognize their contribution and good work for your company and motivate them to be better. They will be your company’s assets.

• Build your credentials, credibility, and good reputation. This can only be done over time with a lot of hard work, excellent performance, and unquestioned integrity. You will only be remembered and appreciated if every project you handle is worth every peso spent on it, preferably, more. Never sacrifice your integrity and name for the sake of money or short-term profits. You must genuinely believe in the product, person or institution you are promoting.

• Learn how to identify mentors, creative people, friends, clients who have admirable qualities and pick out their best character traits which you can adopt or apply to your own situation. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they became successful and if they are not insecure about themselves, chances are they will share their secrets with you. Go with winners and you will be one, too. When you make mistakes, acknowledge them and move on to improve yourself and your services.

• Think positive. Despite the many negative things going on in the world, you must strive to make a difference by focusing on positive thoughts and positive action. I like to say that I have found my niche by fostering positive public relations.

Max Edralin, Jr., Consultant, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas:

I am not sure if this is part of the Filipino way of doing things but it is definitely my way. I call it “interventionist PR” or pakialamero!

This is based on the simple definition of PR—that it is 90 percent performance and 10 percent telling people about it.

Thus, it is in the interest of PR to intervene (or make pakialam) when, for some reason, an organization is not doing well, or things are not going well, or PR has nothing to brag about, or worse, PR finds itself on the defensive.

Renato E. Nieva, Chairman & CEO, Perceptions, Inc: 

• Always do your best. Have a passion for excellence in everything you do, even in the seemingly minor or menial tasks, even in the small details. Keep improving. Be creative and innovative. Perfection may not be possible all the time but one must keep striving for it. One must never be satisfied with “puede na” or good enough. My boss in New York, Curtis Hoxter, always said that for him “the greatest sin is stupidity”. Laziness he could stand but he gave people hell for being stupid and mediocre in their work.

• Derive as much fun from your work as you can. It is true what the old folks used to say that “all work and no play makes Jack (or Juan) a dull boy”. PR is stressful enough as it is, but you must learn how to manage stress. And if you love what you do in the first place, it will not really be as much work as it is a pleasure. A good sense of humor also helps. No, it is absolutely necessary.

• Anchoring all of the above, you must keep your integrity and maintain your principles, particularly in a business where temptations to stray beyond the straight and narrow abound. It may be a trite saying but “honesty is still the best policy” in PR. You may think it is okay to win at all costs, even by cheating and lying or doing something unethical. But if you do this, you will be found out and be the loser in the end. PR is essentially a matter of trust and confidence. If you lose your credibility and reputation in this business, then you might as well pack your bags and look for another job elsewhere where a criminal mind is an asset. But watch out – you will find there is also honor, or some semblance of it, even among thieves. 

Pedro A. Padre, Jr., former President, Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP):

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant project was a classic example of how even a well-planned PR effort could do little or nothing to stem a tsunami of preconceived public opinion. We had all the ‘facts’ to prove that the BNPP was a good project and was beneficial to the country. But nobody cared to listen. The politicians and cause-oriented public were out for blood, nothing less. Resignedly we prepared for the worst. We took cover and waited for the storm to blow over, hoping for another chance to present our side. That day never came.

Virgilio Q. Pantaleon, Consultant, Yuchengco Group of Companies:

The Miss Caltex project was one of the first talent-and-beauty contests, if you can call it a contest, of its kind in the country. It highlighted the intelligence and education, charm and dignity of the young Filipino woman at that time. Bob Hinchman, advertising manager of Caltex Philippines during those years, was highly impressed with the quality of the young ladies who emerged as Miss Caltex. He said that that was where the Miss Caltex contest stood out: it had popularity as well as real value.

Frankie Roman, Director, International Relations Department, City Government of Makati:

One thing I saw clearly in action was the value of sincerity. You join organizations because you want to serve, not because you want to be popular. Let the position – which is just another name for the opportunity to serve – seek you, not the other way around.

Also, I fostered the value of active and committed participation among my peers, in the agencies I worked in, and the organizations that I joined and led.

When you are a member of a working group, give your ideas – they may not be good all the time, but pitch them in. When you throw in good ideas, people appreciate that, and they push you along.

Team work is at the very heart of successful organizations and movements. Do not be held back by the possibility that other people may think you are serving just because you want to be praised or win honors and popularity.

Oscar Villadolid, former Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See, former Senior Vice President, San Miguel Corporation:

I have always believed that in PR we have to know first our own culture, our set of beliefs and value system, our traditions and way of doing things, what makes us the same as and different from other peoples of other cultures, and then apply as many of these as are relevant to our work as strategists, project implementors and communicators.

Romeo P. Virtusio, Chairman & CEO, Virtusio Public Relations, Context Communications International, Inc:

What being our own PR Agency has meant for us is freedom, flexibility and creativity. We have fancied ourselves a local agency with, pardon the phrase, "a global vision”. Whenever we earn a little, we take our entire staff on short trips to local tourist destinations, and other countries, not far, just around Asia. We believe a Philippine PR Agency has the opportunity, if not the responsibility, to compete in the global market, and that the Philippines is very truly a part of that market.

When you lose clients, take stock of your organization, find out where you fumbled and resolve to strengthen your weak points, but never sulk nor grieve over the loss of a client. Clients will leave you when they want to. If you are any good, you will find other clients, or they will find you.

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The Author

Romeo P. Virtusio

Romeo P. Virtusio is Chairman & CEO Virtusio Public Relations, Inc./Context Communications International, Inc.

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