The PRoust Questionnaire provides a quick insight into a public relations practitioner’s interests and point of view, as well as their professional beliefs and values. If you are not familiar with the original 19th-century Proust Questionnaire, please see details at the end of this post.
1. What is your most striking characteristic as a PR practitioner?
Big-picture, strategic thinking.
2. What is your principal fault as a PR practitioner?
A micro-manager; I always want everything perfect.
3. What is your favourite occupation in PR?
Issues management and CEO strategy.
4. Why do you work in PR?
I love the diversity of client work. Mining one day, technology the next, product tampering, recalls or labour situations. Every day is a surprise.
5. What is your idea of PR nirvana?
A CEO that believes in what we do, and allows me to run with the strategy.
6. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery in PR?
Clients that nickel and dime; you get what you pay for.
7. What qualities do you most admire in a PR practitioner?
A fabulous writer, strategic thinker and not afraid to say, “that’s a dumb idea.”
8. What qualities do you most dislike in a PR practitioner?
Those that don’t read the newspaper daily and are not up on what is going on. Practitioners who don’t research properly. Those that try to be all things to all clients—no one is an expert in everything.
9. Who would you describe as a PR hero or villain?
10. What do you most value in your professional contacts?
CEO insight and practices. These individuals are CEO’s for a reason and each is brilliant in his or her own way.
11. Have you ever been influenced by a PR campaign?
Every day – every company has a PR campaign, even if it isn’t called that.
12. Where would you most like to practise PR?
New York. Wall Street. The home of big business, big money and big issues.
13. Has a novel, film, play or other work of fiction ever influenced you as a PR practitioner?
Catcher in the Rye, because it’s anti-establishment. Michael Moore’s documentaries; because Moore takes on a company without knowledge of its business.
14. Who do you think has great public relations?
Jet Blue. Starbucks. And all of my clients.
15. Which real, historical or fictional person or brand would you like to give a reputation makeover?
Everyone needs a makeover, regardless of how good the person is. You learn every day and strategies change every day. But I would really like to work with Tiger Woods.
16. Who is your favourite writer?
Thomas Friedland. Ken Auletta. I love books.
17. What one thing is essential to your PR life?
Right now my biggest influence is Twitter and the social media revolution. Things are changing at the speed of light, especially in regards to crisis management. I love the medium.
18. Groucho Marx is quoted as saying he’d never join a club that would have him as a member. Which PR club, association or tribes do you belong to—and why?
None, right now. I do not have the luxury of time for clubs anymore. I spend most of my time focused on board meetings as a director.
19. Where do you most like to do your professional networking?
At events where I’ve been invited to speak. And at my board meetings.
20. What’s the best career decision you ever made?
When opportunity knocks I answer the door. Quickly.
21. What skills and abilities do you think tomorrow’s PR leaders need?
Writing and an understanding of technology. I think a future career would be engineers that can write well.
22. Which talent would you most like to have?
A better understanding of financial issues, so I can sit on an audit committee.
23. How would you like to end your PR career?
Well, I closed my firm. But my career is actually just taking off, with no plans to end… I love what I do and I love public relations work. CEO strategy is always fascinating.
24. How would you describe the current state of public relations?
It’s In flux. My blog says it all: we need to adapt to change faster and be more strategic with ROI.
25. What is your PR motto?
Proactivity. Process. Passion.
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Mat Wilcox, founded and leads Wilcox Group, a management consulting firm specializing in corporate issues and crisis communications management.
Mat is a board director for XM Canada/Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings and non-profit board S’Cool Life Fund, which has given more than $2 million to schools across Canada. She sits on the advisory board for Wellington Financial LP, is a mentor with the Women’s Executive Network and sits on the Globe and Mail’s Your Business panel. In 2008 and 2009 Mat has been honoured as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, by the Women’s Executive Network. Recently Mat Wilcox was profiled in an extensive BC Business article, Vancouver PR Maven Mat Wilcox Calls it Quits.
The Proust Questionnaire was originally designed to reveal one’s personality. Its name and popularity as a form of interview has roots in the responses given by the French writer, Marcel Proust. His first set of responses came at the end of the nineteenth century, when he was still in his teens (from an English-language “confession album”).
For PR Conversations we have adapted this original idea with questions that offer a public relations’ perspective. It will be fun to compare and contrast responses as the series grows. If you would like to be invited to complete our PRoust Questionnaire for posting on PR Conversations, please visit our Crowdsourcing suggestion form.
Earlier PRoust Questionnaire respondents: