13 Lessons from 13 Years as a PR Consultant

Alex Greenwood
6 min readJun 8

In the bustling sphere of public relations, the terrain is ever-changing, challenging, and, above all, enlightening. From managing delicate reputations to shaping public perception, the journey of a PR consultant is a remarkable blend of unpredictability and control. Having served as a PR consultant for thirteen years, I’ve had the fortune to gather a trove of insights, transforming my career path into a veritable learning ground.

Photo by Waldemar on Unsplash

In reflection, I’d like to share the 13 most valuable lessons I’ve gleaned from my enriching stint in PR consultancy. These “pearls of wisdom,” many learned the hard way, span relationship-building, communication, strategy development, and beyond — encompassing the very soul of what it means to be a PR consultant in the contemporary world.

  1. Relationships are Paramount: PR is built upon relationships — with clients, media, influencers, and stakeholders. Building and maintaining these relationships is essential for success. Don’t underestimate the power of a congratulatory note, a share or retweet on social media, a quick coffee, or a call to brief catch-up. But don’t be annoying. Pleasant check-ins when they make sense are great, but when it comes to the news media, trying to jam a square-peg story into a round news hole is unwise and can eventually cost you a friendly relationship.

2. Listening is as Important as Speaking: The ability to truly listen and understand clients’ needs, feedback from media, or public sentiment is crucial. Communication is not a one-way street. Don’t listen for your chance to speak, listen to learn, and gain perspective.

3. Transparency is Non-negotiable: Always be transparent with your clients about what you can and cannot achieve. Overpromising and underdelivering can harm your reputation. Look, I know when you’re just starting out or on the heels of a pandemic you may be willing to take on all comers — but it is ultimately self-defeating. Confession: over the years, I took a few gigs I had no business accepting. It resulted in mediocre results that left the client cold and made me look terrible. Stretch yourself, yes, but keep your perspective. That leads me to…

4. Adaptability is Key: The media and PR consulting landscape is constantly evolving. You need to keep up with these changes and…

Alex Greenwood

PR Consultant, Speaker, Podcast Producer/Host, Editor, and Award-Winning Writer of the John Pilate Mystery Series. Accomplished belly laugher.