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Rockstar PR Consultants (And the Secret They All Share)

Rockstars don't need authority to tell them how to succeed.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

How do you recog­nise rock­star PR con­sult­ants?

Having worked in the PR industry since 2005, I’ve worked along­side many PR pro­fes­sion­als that could be char­ac­ter­ised as “rock­star PR consultants.”

One rock­star PR con­sult­ant eas­ily out­weighs three or four aver­age con­sult­ants. They make cli­ents hap­pi­er, attract busi­ness (and oth­er “rock­stars”), and put their mark on the agency.

In this blog post, you’ll learn:

Where do they come from?
What’s their secret?
How do you become one?
How do you hire them?

Let’s dive right in:

Where Do Rockstar PR Consultants Come From?

A rock­star PR con­sult­ant can come from anywhere.

Some have been fant­ast­ic account man­agers. Other stra­tegic mas­ter­minds. Others are cre­at­ive geni­uses. Others have been lead­ers, some inspir­ing, some actionable.

Some are edu­cated, com­mu­nic­at­ors. Others are law­yers, busi­ness admin­is­trat­ors, politi­cians, speak­ers, journ­al­ists etc. One of the best PR con­sult­ants I ever had the pleas­ure of work­ing with used to be a nuc­le­ar physicist.

Some can light up a room with their cha­risma; some you won’t even notice until you see the qual­ity of their work. Some are extro­verts; some are intro­verts.

My good friend Richard Yams, nowadays Head of Content at Burson-Marsteller, once wrote:

An organ­isa­tion I worked for had a founder who said he pre­ferred hir­ing con­sult­ants with good self-con­fid­ence and low self-esteem.”

I agree that many suc­cess­ful con­sult­ants have a strong inner drive that some­times stems from dark places. 

But what makes rock­star PR con­sult­ants stand out?

The Secret Trait All PR Rockstars Share

Once they get up to speed, rock­star PR con­sult­ants will start to extin­guish them­selves amongst their peers:

  • You badly want them on your team.
  • They always find a way to blow your mind.
  • They make things look easy out of the box.
  • They’re often social media nat­ur­als.
  • Mysteriously, they tend always to come out on top.
  • You can see in their eyes that they “get it.”

After many years of find­ing and recruit­ing PR tal­ent, I’ve finally arrived at an answer:

Rockstar PR con­sult­ant = A juni­or PR con­sult­ant that doesn’t need (or expect) author­ity to explain how to suc­ceed and get things done.

These indi­vidu­als seem to have things already figured out — and they turn every task into an opportunity:

  • If you want them to take over a small cli­ent, they turn that cli­ent into a big one.
  • If you ask them to do some­thing, they look for innov­at­ive ways to get record res­ults.
  • If you give them feed­back, they give you feed­back on how you can help them suc­ceed.

Ask your­self: Are you wait­ing for author­ity to tell you what to do or how to suc­ceed? Are you wait­ing for the author­ity to per­mit you? Are you wait­ing for someone to give you a chance?

How To Spot PR Rockstars When Recruiting

So, how do you determ­ine if the can­did­ate in front of is a rock­star PR con­sult­ant — or if they have rock­star potential?

Before the inter­view, I give them a task. For instance, I could ask them to pre­pare and present a PR case study. Then, I look at how the can­did­ates tackle this spe­cif­ic task:

  • Some will do their best to crush the assign­ment. Most can­did­ates will focus on the task and do their best to execute it flaw­lessly. They’re striv­ing to get an A+ on the assign­ment. They want to hear the recruit­er say, “Wow, that’s the best way to do what we asked you to do.”
  • Some will improve the rules of the assign­ment. A few can­did­ates will instead turn the assign­ment into an oppor­tun­ity to change the rules to their bene­fit. They might say that the task was wrong, that ‘cre­at­ive PR ideas’ wasn’t what this fic­ti­tious cli­ent needed — and instead, present an innov­at­ive strategy.

I would go for the second group of can­did­ates. I would also look for can­did­ates who improve the out­come and the con­tex­tu­al frame­work because that’s what rock­star PR con­sult­ants do.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo has nothing to do with public relations, of course. I share for no other reason that I happen to enjoy photography. Call it an “ornamental distraction”—and a subtle reminder to appreciate nature.

The cover photo has


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