If you are not familiar with the original 19th-century Proust Questionnaire, please see details at the end of this post.
PRoust Questionnaire answers from Fraser Likely:
1. What is your most striking characteristic as a PR practitioner?
An on-going desire to contribute expertise at the strategic level (rather than tactical and creative one).
2. What is your principal fault as a PR practitioner?
Does an organization need a PR function? If exhibiting the right behaviours, should an organization need a PR function to talk about those behaviours? It’s doubtful. If an organization is not exhibiting the right behaviours, then PR has a role. But, if the role is simply to “message” already proper behaviours, then PR is like an appendix—unnecessary.
I’m sure there are many people who disagree.
3. What is your favourite occupation in PR?
Advising senior management in:
- bringing intelligence forward
- presenting analysis; and
- building forward-moving scenarios
4. Why do you work in PR?
Currently I don’t actually “do” PR. For the last two decades, I’ve advised chief communication officers (CCOs) on organizational design, capacity building and performance measurement on behalf of their public relations departments. Much earlier in my PR career I realized this role was one of the—if not best—vantage points for participating in organizational decision making.
5. What is your idea of PR nirvana?
Participating with other PR thought leaders in brainstorming sessions and discussion groups. Groups like the Global Alliance (GA), AMEC and especially the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) bring together respected thinkers from around the world.
And, if it’s in Katie Paine’s house—big nirvana bonus!
6. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery in PR?
I feel for practitioners who enjoy their craft, specialty and creativeness and who love producing “product.” Yet, when push comes to shove in PR departments and/or organizations, often they find what they produce and have crafted for years is regarded as just another commodity that can be discarded. It’s absolute misery to discover your product is not indispensable to the organization.
7. What qualities do you most admire in a PR practitioner?
Being able to speak truth to power.
8. What qualities do you most dislike in a PR practitioner?
Practitioners who see this profession as only being about communication.
9. Who would you describe as a PR hero or villain?
10. What do you most value in your professional contacts?
Brilliance and self-effacement.
11. Have you ever been influenced by a PR campaign?
Of course—but I can’t tell you which one. A good PR campaign should not leave a trail. Therefore, I’m certain I’ve been influenced but without consciously knowing that I was. Is that why I drink Côtes du Rhône wines?
12. Where would you most like to practise PR?
In the CEO or chair’s office.
13. Has a novel, film, play or other work of fiction ever influenced you as a PR practitioner?
I cried when seeing To Sir with Love. I’m still waiting for my clients to break out in song.
14. Who do you think has great public relations?
The plutocrats: the 0.01 per cent of the one per cent. Heck, in the USA they have the whole Republican party pitching for them.
15. Which real, historical or fictional person or brand would you like to give a reputation makeover?
The question suggests I hold different thoughts about a person or brand than do the majority of others—which defines “reputation” as what others think of you.
I’d rephrase the question to: What person or brand do you think more positively about than the majority of people?
There is only one answer that everyone would have to give: myself.
16. Who is your favourite writer?
I love Venice. Whenever I get the opportunity to travel there I read Donna Leon’s easy-reading mysteries set in that city.
17. What one thing is essential to your PR life?
My dog, Skipper. Forced by a two-walks-a-day clause in his contract (he has a good lawyer), I get an invaluable opportunity for fresh oxygen, plus unencumbered thinking and strategizing time.
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?
I’ll name my primary one: the Institute for Public Relations International Communication on PR Measurement and Evaluation.
Why, initially? Because Jim Grunig took a chance and the rest of the elected members were asleep at the wheel, that day. Now? More than a decade later, I’m an emeritus member and continue to learn from each discussion we hold. Plus I continue to try and push the envelope by playing the role of spoon.
19. Where do you most like to do your professional networking?
Wherever there are faces: face-to-face.
20. What’s the best career decision you ever made?
Taking a big gulp and incorporating my own company, Likely Communication Strategies.
21. What skills and abilities do you think tomorrow’s PR leaders need?
22. Which talent would you most like to have?
To be able to sing…well or at least passably.
23. How would you like to end your PR career?
24. How would you describe the current state of public relations?
The coming together of international thought leaders in so many different forums is encouraging. The question is: While we have the floats, is there really a parade behind them? There is a history in our field of the association and think-tank heads—as well as academics—being disengaged from the masses of practitioners.
My hope is the typical practitioner also participates in—or at least observes—the “new thinking” coming from organizations such as the GA, AMEC, IPR, etc., as involvement and examination possibilities are much greater today than ever before. Though some prominent thought leaders might be perceived as elitist, this shouldn’t foster a general feeling that the typical practitioner is simply a sheep being led to a new grass-is-greener pasture.
25. What is your PR motto?
Keep your stick on the ice!
The source is an ice hockey analogy: You won’t score if your hockey stick is not in the play, on the ice where the puck is. You can’t have game, if you are not placing yourself in to the game action.
Fraser Likely, APR, FCPRS, based in Ottawa, Canada, works with chief communication officers on a PR department’s organizational design, capacity-building, performance measurement and strategic capabilities. He has been an adjunct professor at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Fraser is involved in numerous international bodies and has presented at conferences held by the GA, PRSA, IABC, IPRRC, CPRS and Bledcom. He co-leads a team of researchers, sponsored by the IABC Research Foundation, conducting a global study of the factors that influence a PR department’s organizational structure. On the ice, delusional, he sees himself as a gifted hockey strategist, with a playmaker’s soft hands.
Contact him by email.
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 is fun to compare and contrast responses as the series grows. (See below.)
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: