One of the best tools available to PR practitioners is the famous “rule of three.” We’ve seen it lived out in Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and even in Jerry Seinfeld’s “Three Rules of Life” (actually four).

Three best practices on my radar for 2017 are to value billing, create a unique corporate culture and shape our community.


Value billing

While my team might jump for joy at the prospect of not having to enter time, finding a way to eliminate the process of tracking one’s work is not the problem that needs to be solved. Value-based billing is a way to bill for client services based on the value of information provided instead of the number of hours spent on a specific project.

Our profession has already been practicing a form of this approach through what is typically referred to as a “project fee.” Projects like a grand opening, a set number of desk-side reporter briefings or development of an opposing editorial can include such a structure.

If you have a unique relationship with someone a current client wants to connect with, then is it worth an hour of your time or is it appropriate to place a value that takes into account the time you’ve spent developing that relationship? In other words, is it worth a quarter hour of billing or $10,000?

Whether this is a good fit for your billing model or not, the topic will be one thread of an important discussion led by Patrick Lamb at the 2017 Counselors Academy Spring Conference in Seattle, May 7–9. Patrick has developed similar models for other professional-service firms and will have some unique insights for attendees to consider.

Create a unique corporate culture

The idea that a happy team makes for a productive team isn’t anything new. However, understanding the process of what truly makes a workplace click is an ongoing job. Word-of-mouth endorsements are great, but often result in community leaders defining our success based on events or clients we serve.

At the recent PRSA International Conference, I had a chance to hear from both Big Leap Creative’s Lisa Gerber and Geben Communication’s Heather Whaling on how they built their firms. What I liked the most was how they determined their unique corporate cultures. Lisa shared how hers was based on quality of life based on where she lived and who she manages. Heather shared 10 values that her team views as requirements for successful internal engagement.

Our team is in the process of shaping our creed of “helping the small business to be heard and large organization to be understood” into our own corporate culture.

Shape our community

One of the best practices we will celebrate this year in the Counselors Academy is the work that our firms are doing for the community through giving back.

Some of our members have gone so far as to change their corporate structures to become B Corporations, benefiting charitable organizations with their businesses’ profits. Other agency owners have developed nonprofit organizations or created their own cause-related campaigns as a way of meeting needs to serve the most vulnerable in their communities.

As we make these tweaks and improvements, our respective practices and professions will be in a better position to serve as thought leaders in the communities that we serve.