Differentiating a public relations firm is no easy task since we all pretty much offer the same set of services. Sure, the holding companies will play the size card and boutiques will tout their category expertise while we midsized firms will sell a ‘best of both worlds’ solution. Still, it’s tough not to be tossed in with the pack when a big search is underway.
That’s why our decision to embrace humor as a competitive advantage has been so important in making us a breed apart. Some competitors may be larger. Others may have deeper sector credentials. But, no one, and I mean no one, can stand-up to our team of professionally trained, stand-up comedians.
We embraced stand-up comedy as a key management training technique about three years ago. It’s done wonders for improving our people’s presentation skills and workplace morale. And, when a prospect asks what sets us apart, we always add the kicker: “You’ve undoubtedly met some fine firms in your search. But, we’re the only one who will make you laugh.” That’s critical, especially when a new business pitch is extremely close. Clients end up selecting firms with whom they’ve built rapport. And, ladies and gentlemen, guess what skill stand-up comedy training enhances? Rapport building.
MSNBC thought enough of our commitment to humor that they just devoted a five-minute segment to how Peppercom uses comedy as a business tool.
Besides the obvious, there are all sorts of intangible benefits to our comedy ethos. For one, it helps us self-select prospects and employees (i.e. ‘arrogant, pompous individuals need not apply’). For another, it helps us identify stars in the making.
There are more than 3,000 public relations firms in this country. But, I’m not aware of any other one that would use the words ‘sense of humor’ in answering the critical prospective client and employee question: “What sets you apart?”