This week my boss Candace McCaffery celebrated 12 years at Cookerly Public Relations – 12 years! It got me to thinking: what was I doing 12 years ago when she was starting here? Well, I was only 13 years old, so…moving on.
So where will I be 12 years from now? Hopefully I’ll be following in the footsteps of Candace, preparing to manage a team on public relations plans and campaigns.
I’ve been fortunate to have a superb manager and mentor in Candace, and not only have I learned so much about the public relations industry, but I’ve seen in her what it takes to manage others effectively.
So (from the eyes of an account exec) here are five tips for good PR management:
1. Don’t just manage, lead
One of the things I admire most in Candace is her ability to allocate wisely, but she’s not just assigning tasks to others, serving as a talking head in client meetings and such; she is constantly leading our team in thinking about new ways to market, new ways to communicate – and leading the charge. At Cookerly, there’s no, “Here’s a problem. Fix it.” As an effective manager, Candace is a leader who works with each of us to accomplish goals.
2. Practice what you preach
It’s an oldie, but a goody. How do you expect your team to do something that you can’t do yourself? Candace never asks us to do something she couldn’t provide guidance on, something she hasn’t done before. When we do approach new tactics in this ever-changing world of mass communications, Candace dives in head first. She has become the agency’s director of interactive services and social media, leaving no stone unturned in finding the newest methods of relating to our publics.
3. No task is too small
I know it’s my job as an AE to be the grunt and the workhorse, but seeing my boss from time to time pull a media list, make the pitch to the local paper or set up the interview shows me that she’s tuned in to what I do and considers every task our teams does to be important.
4. There is such a thing as a stupid question
One of the best aspects of working at Cookerly is our extreme open door policy. I often turn to Candace for her advice, and she’s never once had a problem with me popping into her office to “talk it out.” But one thing I’ve come to appreciate in her is that I now believe there is such thing as a stupid question. And when I ask them, she doesn’t just give me the answers. She helps me to find answers on my own, making me a stronger writer, researcher and professional.
5. It’s all about relationships
Now I’m not saying that my boss and I should hang out every weekend or anything like that, but I’ve come to realize that an effective manager has to have the trust of her team to do a good job, and Candace has struck the perfect balance in forming relationships with each of us. She is compassionate, fun, demanding … all when the time is right. She shows us that she’s a real person, which has made me respect her and want to do a better job everyday.
Maybe I’m being naïve in my opinion that these things make for the best manager in this industry. Or maybe this is what everyone knows and experiences. I’ve only been practicing PR for a short three years or so, but I know the lessons Candace has taught me will remain with me for years to come.