While the agency leaders attending this week's PRSA Counselors Academy Conference in New Orleans are quick to tout their successes with clients, they are also extremely sensitive to PR failures. After all, failure could mean loss of business and, ultimately, loss of revenue.
With more than 15 years of agency experience leading account teams, Mark McClennan, senior VP at Schwartz MSL, has seen his share of PR successes—and learned from those situations that did not go as planned. In his May 9 roundtable talk at the Counselors Academy Conference, McClennan addressed some common leadership errors in his "Failures, Flubs and #@%! Ups: How We Fail and What We Can Teach Our Staff" presentation. Here is his PRACTICE Failure Model (with three C's and two T's) that identifies the roots of failure from an agency perspective, but this model can be easily taken to heart by all communicators.
P: Failure to Plan—People assume they are better planners than they really are. Your staff may want more planning and structure, even if they don't ask for it.
R: Failure of Response—Leaders shouldn't remain cloistered in their offices when they should be out with staff helping to take care of a crisis or problem.
A: Failure of Attention—Leaders shouldn't be checking their e-mail, texting or tweeting during staff meetings.
C: Failure of Complacency & Neglect—"My process/campaign strategy works well enough, why change now?"
C: Failure of Comforming—"Our organization has always done it this way, and it's the best way I know."
T: Failure of Training—There can be too much or too little training. Consider on-the-job mentoring.
T: Failure of Trust—As a leader, give your staff a chance to grow on their own. Tell them, "I trust you, so handle the problem."
I: Failure of Intelligence—Even smart people make dumb moves.
C: Failure of Courage—It may be better to make a wrong decision than no decision at all. Avoid paralysis.
E: Failure of Evaluation—Are you sure your PR programs are working? Get regular feedback from clients, staff and other key stakeholders, and adjust accordingly.
Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01