What makes you an expert?

By Posted in - Public Relations on January 5th, 2012 0 Comments

According to Merriam-Webster”s dictionary, an expert is defined as:


Noun: A person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.

Adjective: Having or involving such knowledge and skill

I”m a big believer in working with people who are “experts” in their field. Please note I didn”t say they must have mastered their field – as I feel you”re always building and expanding your body of knowledge in an area. But to me, an expert is someone who has proven experience in success in a certain line of work.

If I”m hiring a plumber, I want to know that he or she is experienced in that field. If I”m hiring a graphic designer, I want to see examples of designs they”ve created and hear success stories about how they”ve implemented their creative counsel into a project.

If you”re hiring a PR person or firm, how can you tell if you”re working with any expert? It helps to know the right questions to ask, such as:

  • How long have you worked in public relations? How did you get into the field? (The second one is a good question to ask – the ones who were called to this field will have eyes that light up when they tell you their story).
  • What successes have you had in a particular PR skill area (i.e. media jameshallison casino relations ,event marketing, social marketing programs)? Provide specific examples where you contributed to a program”s success.
  • How do you measure success of a PR program? (The ideal person or firm should be able to describe their method of analyzing message engagement and penetration – far beyond just quoting impressions or (shudder) advertising equivalencies). How did the PR program they implemented resonate throughout the business? What were the short and long term impacts?
  • How invested are you in staying current with PR industry news and trends? Comment on a PR trend you”re seeing right now that would make an impact my business.

These are just a few questions to get you started in vetting out your PR expert. If the candidate or firm in question can”t or won”t answer these questions to your satisfaction, odds are they don”t have the experience you need to take your communications goals to the next level.

There”s are snake oil salespeople in every industry — people who will try to sell you on products or services you don”t really need. The same is true in the PR business.

Look for the firms and PR practitioners who have solid experience under their belt, and the fire in their eyes. You”ll know it when you see it. You”ll have no doubts they”re experts in their field. These will be the ones who take your marketing strategy to new heights and tell your story in the best way possible.


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