Does Your Publicist Possess These 3 Winning Traits?

Amy Stern - 03/23/2024

If you’ve been thinking about hiring a public relations agency , here are three traits to look for to ensure that communicating your point of difference is spot on.

If you’ve been thinking about hiring a public relations agency or possibly switching your agency of record due to lackluster media results, there are some key considerations you should have top of mind during your search. As you evaluate publicists or PR teams, these  are the three traits to look for to ensure you find the support you need to communicate your distinct point of difference.


1.   Attentive – To truly be a successful publicist, one needs to be an attentive listener because it’s not just about the media connections we have nurtured and our access to them, but an ability to hear and understand what matters most to reporters, producers, podcasters, etc.. At the same time, our main priority is serving our clients which means we must be able to listen to their business objectives, understand the external message they desire to communicate, and translate those brand centric objectives into newsworthy content. It’s almost like playing matchmaker, yet attentiveness to detail, will yield the desired result.

Agency Example:

When pitching a nationally recognized housewares brand to one of the leading consumer food publications, we knew we had done our job when the journalist responded to our pitch as follows: “I hate PR people, but I will always take your calls no matter what because I know that you wouldn’t be calling unless you had something valuable to say, that was a good fit for our magazine and was truly something our readers would be interested in. You never try to sell me on your latest blender after I’ve told you I’m doing a round-up story on waffle makers and you really know what set’s your brand apart from the competition.”

2.  Tenacious – Tenacity means you never give up, but there’s a fine line between never giving up and pushing a client’s agenda to the point of having media tune out the message you’re trying to deliver. The best publicists will be able to articulate a story angle that lights a spark with media due to its newsworthiness, while simultaneously advancing a client’s goals.

Agency Example:

A well-known food brand was about to launch a new product. It was not only a seasonal product, but targeted to a very niche ethnic audience, and still, the client’s expectations were for us to secure national media coverage regarding the launch. While initially seeing this as purely a food story and one unlikely to garner national interest, we remained determined to secure the national media that was asked of us. Dissecting the product, examining its every ingredient, the nuances of its package design and the manufacturing process—it was there that we found the angle that would open the flood gates to national media: a story that examined the manufacturing challenges inherent in altering a calculated baking process that had remained unchanged for over 100 years. These challenges led to a story angle about a business that overcame adversity, the hurdles they faced in overcoming these challenges and gave the story an edge that appealed not only to national food reporters, but to business and lifestyle reporters, as well. After facing what appeared to be an impossible client ask, we secured national coverage with placements on the Today Show, coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and AP coverage that led to a motherload of online placements in regional markets across the country.

3.  Resilient – The ability to be resilient is often a publicist’s secret weapon. As we know, situations can change on a dime, especially in the world of media and it’s the publicist’s ability to be flexible, to see a way out of an impossible situation, that allows one to deliver time and time again.

Agency Example:

We had successfully pitched and secured a highly coveted Super Bowl cooking segment live from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa featuring our client, a chef and cookbook author, who was also the owner of several successful sports bars. Our ability to secure the spot, was based on a pitch that featured regional dishes from the participating teams, tweaked to incorporate the chef’s creative twist. The producers had no idea that we had spent hours researching the local cuisines and developing brand new recipes that would have the visual appeal and simplicity required for broadcast TV. Just days before our departure, the producer called to say that she had changed the format of the segment and was now looking for an innovative game day beverage and a recipe that could easily be made days ahead. The saying, “never let ‘em see you sweat,” was never more appropriate. We developed two new recipes on the fly, called the food stylist we’d hired and told her she’d need to re-shop for a whole new list of ingredients, and start preparing a new menu.

That crisis aside, we travelled from our home base in the NY metro area and were pumped to be delivering a segment to a national audience that would catapult the chef to national recognition, yet, another hurdle lay ahead. We had partnered with an appliance brand to deliver a crockpot that would be featured during the segment. Having worked with them for many years, we were sure the package was waiting at the hotel’s front desk upon arrival in Florida, but at 9 PM the night before the segment was to air, we were informed that they had no crockpot waiting for us. All the stores in the immediate vicinity were already closed and with the network sending a car for us at 6 AM the next morning, there would be no opportunity to wait for those retailers to reopen the next morning and still arrive for the segment on time. After an infinitive search to find a store that was still open, we located a 24-hour Walmart about an hour away. That’s when we jumped in a cab, secured the crockpot, and the next morning we delivered as promised, a killer food segment with our client ecstatic as he shared his signature recipes with the hosts of NBC’s Today Show and its audience in excess of 6 million viewers.

For additional examples of what success can look like, check out these case studies and let’s start crafting your winning strategy. Feel free to email me at so we can connect.


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