PRoust Questionnaire: Estelle de Beer

The PRoust Questionnaire provides a quick insight into a public relations practitioner’s interests and point of view, as well as his or her 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.

PRoust Questionnaire answers from Estelle de Beer:

1. What is your most striking characteristic as a PR practitioner?

Being a good listener. It is important for me to capture all the information that somebody is sharing, in order to form an opinion or make a knowledgeable decision.

2. What is your principal fault as a PR practitioner?

I am a bit of a perfectionist, which can have its advantages and disadvantages in this profession—whether as an academic or practitioner.

3. What is your favourite occupation in PR?

The challenge of working on a strategic level; because once you have decided on the strategy, the implementation is easy.

4. Why do you work in PR?

I believe in the power of communication.

5. What is your idea of PR nirvana?

Nirvana is being allowed to shape the future from your professional point of view.

6. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery in PR?

When expectations exceed resources.

7. What qualities do you most admire in a PR practitioner?

Being tenacious, dynamic and creative, all with a humble spirit.

8. What qualities do you most dislike in a PR practitioner?

Being overbearing and insincere.

9. Who would you describe as a PR hero or villain?

Hero: PR giants and visionaries in practice or academia, on whose shoulders we can stand. Villain: “Spinners.”

10. What do you most value in your professional contacts?

Inspirational individuals, whose leadership qualities and character I admire.

11. Have you ever been influenced by a PR campaign?

I am always influenced by campaigns that focus on the human side of life.

12. Where would you most like to practise PR?

In any environment that is dynamic and visionary and where I can influence the outcome of decisions.

13. Has a novel, film, play or other work of fiction ever influenced you as a PR practitioner?

Yes, there are many, but in regards to PR, the film Chocolat comes to mind. As change agents we are continually working our magic on the people around us. And, we often change as much as they do.

14. Who do you think has great public relations?

Brands like The Body Shop and Natura that have incorporated sustainability into their business models.

15. Which real, historical or fictional person or brand would you like to give a reputation makeover?

The brand “Africa“—a continent with much potential and many challenges.

16. Who is your favourite writer?

There are many, but a contemporary writer of stories that comes to mind is Paulo Coelho—a true alchemist.

17. What one thing is essential to your PR life?

My network of friends and family.

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 have been a member of numerous professional associations since I started my career. I am currently a member of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa (PRISA) and am past president of the South African Communication Association (SACOMM). I just love this profession and enjoy exchanging ideas with other likeminded people—whether in practice or academia.

19. Where do you most like to do your professional networking?

In virtual or real coffee shops.

20. What’s the best career decision you ever made?

To embark on a journey of lifelong learning.

21. What skills and abilities do you think tomorrow’s PR leaders need?

Thinking strategically about stakeholders: For us it will be “business as usual” but for other managers it will be “business as unusual.”

22. Which talent would you most like to have?

Telling jokes with gusto.

23. How would you like to end your PR career?

Helping young and enthusiastic newcomers to the profession in realising their dreams towards working in one of the most gratifying professions on the planet.

24. How would you describe the current state of public relations?

Extremely exciting and on the verge of some paradigmatic breakthroughs.

25. What is your PR motto?

Just do it!


Estelle de Beer, MA, joined the University of Pretoria’s department of marketing and communication management in 2003 as a lecturer. She is a founding member of the university’s Centre for Communication and Reputation Management. Prior working experience includes communication manager at the University of Pretoria and similar communication management roles for South Africa’s Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism, and Department of Health and Population Development, plus the City Council of Pretoria and Telkom.

As a past president of SACOMM, she represents the association on the Council for Communication Management (CCM). Estelle was part of the research team for the King III Report on Governance for South Africa 2009, and currently serves on the compliance and stakeholder relationships committee of the King Committee for the writing of the King Report Practice Notes. She facilitated the governance working group for the Stockholm Accords of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management.

Estelle is working towards a PhD on the topic of the role of corporate communication in corporate governance, sustainability and corporate strategy.


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:

Don Radoli

Toni Muzi Falconi

Richard Bailey

Jane Jordan-Meier

Nelly Benova

Peter Stanton

Mat Wilcox

Anne Gregory

Markus Pirchner

Heather Yaxley

Judy Gombita

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4 Replies to “PRoust Questionnaire: Estelle de Beer

  1. As for point number 23, those of us who have been fortunate enough to be your students will vouch for the richness you have added to our professional perspectives – but it’s only the beginning 🙂 Great to see this profile!

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