"We often hear from clients that they think PR professionals have some sort of magic wand, or we know where the silver bullets are," Ben Finzel, president of RENEWPR and founding principal of The Change Agencies, tells Doug Simon.
However, Finzel says that's far from the case. "There are no silver bullets," he tells Simon. "PR is work and relationships and clarity and relevance. And what we do is common sense."
Reminding clients of PR's roots is essential—"just sort of reinforcing that being smart, being clear, being simple is often best, and just letting folks know that's okay."
Clarity, Finzel says, is key to grounding PR in common sense. "How do you make an issue or topic clear for others? For us, it's about being truthful. It's about being engaging. It's about being collaborative." He also cautions against overthinking. "Sometimes the first thought is the best, and sometimes what seems to you to make the most sense. But you figure, that couldn't possibly be the case. Sometimes that is the best answer. "
He also discusses how he applies common sense principles to his clients in the energy, environment, and equity communications sectors. "Practically speaking, that means helping clients figure out how to communicate about climate, about sustainability, about energy policy, environmental policy, public lands protection, clean air and water and clean transportation."
Equity is especally important to Finzel. "What staff are we hiring? Who are the people that we're putting out front in terms of talking to communities, engaging with communities? So, it just made sense for me as a gay man with years of experience in engaging diverse communities and working with others and collaborating with others to engage diverse communities, to add equity to our focus."
Finzel also talks about his status as one of the founding members of The Change Agencies. "What we are is the national network of multicultural and LGBTQ-owned and operated PR agencies. We provide an authentic alternative to communicating across cultures. And when I say alternative, what I mean is we are members of the communities that we engage, and we have experience in actually engaging those communities."
He says that organizations like The Change Agencies are increasingly important in a PR landscape that places an ever-growing emphasis on authenticity.
"For us," Finzel tells Simon, "authenticity looks real because it is. It's focused on what matters to diverse communities instead of what others think is important. It's built on substance rather than smoke and mirrors. It's designed to reflect what different communities need by respecting who they are, projecting how they are a part of the national conversation."
Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]