Eight years ago my friend and mentor Joan Stewart shared these words of wisdom with me that even in this economy I still believe ring true: “There’s enough business to go around.” I really took that idea to heart and have made a great effort to never turn away from, or ignore, other firms specializing in the same areas my firm does. I’m definitely aware of what our competition is doing and how we’re distinct and different from them, but I don’t look at them as a thorn in my side, nor do I wish ill will upon them. Instead, I look at them as potential partners, not problems.
Looking at other publicists or PR firms as competition comes only from fear, not fun — the reason I got in this business in the first place — and people can sense whether or not you have an abundant outlook or scarcity mindset. They’re like bees; they can sense fear! If we can all make a good living and enjoy what we do every day, why not welcome the competition?
I’m all for helping out other firms and publicists; I’ve even recommended clients to the competition. Put your feet in your clients’ shoes — do they want to be stuck with a publicist or hire a PR firm that isn’t a good fit financially and/or emotionally for them? Of course not! If you’re a niche business, be sure to bring on clients that will deliver win-win results for you both. And if a potential client is simply not a fit, refer them to one of your favorite competitors. Remember, they could do the same.
So don’t be threatened. Look at the competition as a new neighbor and consider a friendly neighborly gesture like baking them a pie. (Kidding.) In all seriousness though, reach out to them — not in the sneaky “I’m going to find out all your secrets” way, but with the mindset of maybe this person or firm could be really great, and fun, to work with someday. I’m an avid believer, especially in this business, that partnerships and new ventures with people will make our jobs way more fun and exciting. You never know what can happen when two heads, or firms, get together. You can do great things and even make a difference you never thought possible.
Twenty-year PR veteran Michelle Tennant Nicholson is Chief Creative Officer of Wasabi Publicity and co-founder of www.PitchRate.com, a free media tool that connects journalists, publicists, and experts. Called a five-star publicist by Good Morning America’s Mable Chan, Michelle specializes in international PR, working regularly with the likes of Oprah, Larry King, BBC, The Today Show and other major media. You can reach her through her blog where she teaches tips from the trade.
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