By Emma Ingram


Two weeks ago, I got the wonderful opportunity to attend a PRSA-NCC career enhancement workshop at Hager Sharp. Jeff Ghannam, current President of Crystal Communications & Marketing LLC and past president of PRSA-NCC, led the workshop. He spent four hours discussing how to transform yourself from a PR Manager to a PR Leader. We talked about a range of topics including innovative ways to motivate and manage people on your team, how to influence the decision-makers whose decisions affect you and how to be smart when it comes to assigning tasks, allocating finances and supervising resources. Although this workshop was aimed at PR professionals, attending it as a student turned out to be very beneficial and I walked away having learned a lot.


The first thing we discussed were the differences between a manager and a leader. After some brainstorming, Jeff revealed the dividing factors between the two positions. While managers plan, organize and coordinate, leaders inspire and motivate people. By setting this standard, everyone was able to figure out where they land on the spectrum of a manager to a leader.


So how do you become a leader? According to Jeff, it takes five steps.

  1. Manage yourself
  2. Manage people and teams
  3. Manage “up” (your boss)
  4. Manage clients, agencies and emotionally charged audiences
  5. Manage budgets


Managing Yourself

In order to measure yourself, you need to become more self-aware. This includes recognizing your weaknesses and realizing how others perceive you. Simply asking for honest feedback from your co-workers can be a step in the right direction for assessing yourself. You also must strive for a work and life balance. This can be done through strong organizational skills at home and at work. Whether you create daily to do lists or separate your inbox into different folders, getting organized will leave you less stressed.


Managing People and Teams

To manage people on your team, you need to set reasonable expectations from the beginning. Not only should you be clear about what you want from others but also be clear about what you can deliver to others. In addition, recognize the needs that people on your team need in order to function. These include physiological needs (lunch breaks), safety needs (safe working environment), social needs (creating a community of acceptance and belonging), and esteem needs (recognizing achievements). And don’t forget to motivate people by recognizing their hard work, caring about them professionally and providing feedback to them.


Manage “Up”

When working with your boss, you need to be able to feel their pain. Let them know that you understand the business and that you care about the company. Work together with your boss to agree on personal goals and objectives that are also measurable. Lastly, be sure to report to your boss regularly in order to keep up with one another and stay on the same page.


Managing Clients, Agencies and Emotionally Charged Audiences

The first thing you must do is to listen to your client and/or audience. By listening, you will understand the issue and let your client vent. Then ask for more information because this will show them you have an interest in solving the problem. Identify a project timeline with milestones and do your absolute best to stick to it. Also remember to stay focused and positive throughout your work with your client because this will lead to a mutually beneficial relationship in the end.


Manage Budgets

Before preparing a budget, you should set strategic goals that will outline what you want to achieve. Then you’ll move onto the implementation plan which will go into further depth regarding how and when you’ll go about achieving your goals. This is when you’ll recognize your revenue and expenses. With managing budgets, the important thing to remember is that it’s just money. Although tackling your first budget may prove to be a challenge, your confidence in building one will grow over time, just as your skills towards becoming a PR leader will.


Once again, this workshop was intended for PR practitioners working within a company or organization. However, as a student I was still able to learn valuable lessons and skills that I can transfer into my life. Not only did this workshop motivate me to improve certain aspects of my management roles in school, but it also inspired me to becoming an innovative, confident and successful PR leader in the future.