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How can I get rid of my PR?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 02 Mar 2012

Q. Having moved to a senior position at my firm, I find myself encumbered by a PR person every time I make a public appearance or am interviewed for a newspaper, even though my previous job was at a similar level. It's as though the board doesn't trust me and it really grates. How can I prove that I don't need a minder?

A. I'm not sure from your question whether it's the PR person's actual presence during these interviews that bugs you - or if it's more that you interpret that presence as evidence of a lack of trust in you from your board. You need to separate the two, I think.

The first thing to establish is whether or not your predecessor was also routinely accompanied by a PR person. If it's a company custom that pre-dates your arrival, then there's clearly nothing personal about it. For all you know, it might have been established as a result of some deeply unfortunate public gaffe that could well have been prevented had the senior executive responsible enjoyed a bit of guidance. If so, you need to know about it.

If it's not standard practice, formally insisted on by the board, then it could well be happening at the instigation of the PR person himself; whether he is genuinely well-meaning or just a bit pushy.

Once you've established whose idea this is, you should use your previous experience at senior level, where presumably you weren't always so encumbered, as evidence not only that you can be trusted on your own but also that journalists are much more likely to respond positively to senior executives who don't feel the need to surround themselves with corporate PR protection.

This last point is crucial; your request to be allowed to go solo must be seen to be in the company's interest, not just in yours.

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