The following is a list of things I have either (a) collected like a magpie over the years or (b) made up.  Life lacks precision, and I’m sure there are instances in which some of these suggestions won’t be applicable.  Hopefully, though, there’s something here that will serve you as well as it has served me.  The one item on the list that applies in absolutely every situation is this: “be kind to people.”


“If you decide to extend the hand of friendship, never withdraw it. Take strange and kindly pleasure in rebuffal.” – Anon

“Most interactions in business are part of a complex food chain.  Have in mind the invisible others that might be affecting the behaviour of the person you are dealing with.”

“Treat your largest client with the same care and attention with which you treat your smallest client.”

“If you’re buying creative services, treat agencies with trademarked processes with suspicion.”

“Be kind to people.”

“If an idea needs selling, it’s probably not very good.”

“The human brain is a search engine.”

“If your message is good enough, you don’t have to worry about the medium.”

“Respect for hands-on knowledge wins over respect for abstract authority.” – Cluetrain Manifesto

“Hard work is your biggest competitive advantage.”

“Perception minus reality equals PR value.”

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways. If you are seizing on a new business opportunity, deliberately move your customers’ expectations up a few notches and consistently over-deliver on your promises — you will leave your competitors struggling to catch up.”

“Doing things better doesn’t have to cost more — all it takes is a little creativity and attention to hiring, training and management. To achieve consistently terrific customer service, you must hire wonderful people who believe in your company’s goals, habitually do better than the norm and who will love their jobs; make sure that their ideas and opinions are heard and respected; then give them the freedom to help and solve problems for your customers.”

“In business, creating a favourable impression at the first point of customer contact is an absolute imperative. Though everyone knows this, many companies still only manage to do a mediocre job at best. But what isn’t widely understood is… the customer’s second impression of the brand can be even more important than his first. The second interaction a customer has with your business usually involves something that has gone wrong — they’re having trouble using the product or service. Handled correctly, this is a situation in which a company can create a very positive impression. Sadly, it’s where things often go terribly wrong.”

“If you think that nothing can be done to change perceptions of your brand, consider this: Lucozade was once promoted as a drink for sick children.”

“Process and outcomes are two different things.  Some process is little more than window dressing and is often worse.  It can look like discipline when in fact it is simply wasteful. Process can be destructively seductive.”

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Ideas strike like thunderbolts.”

“The optimum room temperature for ideas is between 13 and 16 degrees centigrade.” (Though my colleagues disagree)

“Give things away.”

“You don’t need a big PR team, you need big ideas.”

“Conflict mostly dissolves if you listen to, understand and say out loud the other side’s concerns.  Try it.”

“PR is a lot like the restaurant industry.  The bigger the business gets, the more ordinary and forgettable the food becomes.  Think Le Gavroche vs a global fast food chain. Great storytelling, like great food, has an unforgettable taste.”

“Comforting predictability is worthless.  PR is all about the element of surprise.”

“Pitch processes are weighted against the best interests of the client.  They are designed as an opportunity for an agency to sell its ideas.  If an idea needs selling it probably isn’t that great.  Selling isn’t even an essential requirement in an adept PR professional.  Journalists aren’t sold things, they’re told things.  A PR professional needs to be able to make an idea appealing in writing or pictures, not close a sale.  Pitches are also designed to test the chemistry between an agency and a client.  You can have great chemistry with your agency but it doesn’t matter a jot when it comes to outcomes, which is fundamentally what you’re paying for.  I have hired some great agency people over the years.  If I made a decision on appointing an agency based on how much I liked someone, it was almost invariably a big mistake.  Liking you agency is a bonus, but not a necessity.  Respecting them is essential.”

“The most expensive and worthless document that a business can own is the press release written by committee.”

“Buzzwords destroy stories.  Neologisms don’t necessarily.”

“All I can do is turn a phrase until it catches the light.” – Clive James

“When someone tries to sell you a “content strategy”, (a) it’ll probably be a gift-wrapped empty box and (b) you’ll probably end up discontent.”

“If a story has failed and it is a good story, it still has a chance if it is handled by an expert.”

“Some of the best things have to happen at the last minute.”

“Listen to those hairs on the back of your neck. If an idea makes them stand up, it’s a good one.”

“The best stories are the ones told nearest the edge of the cliff.  Your agency’s job is to guide you as close as possible to the edge without falling off.”

“There are nine potential ingredients to a good story.  You need at least one of them.  Without them, your story doesn’t exist.”

“Never, ever expect quid pro quo.”

“The doors that you expect to be wide open are the ones that are most frequently bolted.”

““No” is as valuable a word as “yes”.”

“The most unexpected people from your past are often the kindest.  This teaches you a lot about the importance of kindness.”

“Give things away.”

“If people are unkind, find a way of letting them know how you feel about the way they’re behaving.”

““Creative” is an adjective that applies fleetingly.  It is not a noun.  The more “creative” someone looks, the less likely they are to be consistently creative.”

“Sometimes, large agencies are like private schools.  Their clients pay for the pupils to attend, even if they haven’t met them.  Journalists also pay dearly.”

“If your story can’t be told in 140 characters, it’s going to be a hard slog.”

“In creative services, trademarks are the refuge of the ordinary.”

“Conversations are more tangible and valuable than advertising. You can’t buy conversations, but you can buy things that catalyse them.”

“99.9 percent of the money I spend on advertising is wasted.  The trouble is, I don’t know which 99.9 percent.”

“People now search, share and shop under the influence.  SUI is more important than SEO.”

“Give things away.”

“Be kind to people.”

“Be kind to people.”

“Be kind to people.”


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