PRoust Questionnaire: Léa Werthman

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 Léa Werthman:

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

I am known for my enthusiasm and passion.

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

When fired up with an idea, I can sometimes be impatient about how long it takes to execute.

3. What is your favourite occupation in PR?

I love bringing stakeholders and organizations together in win-win situations, making a positive impact in communities.

4. Why do you work in PR?

Through the relationships and campaigns we build, PR practitioners can truly make a difference in the world: change ideas, influence positive behaviours and improve lives. That’s why I’m passionate about PR.

5. What is your idea of PR nirvana?

Having the chance to dream big and see those ideas come to life. I remember being at the National Arts Centre for opening night of Ottawa Ballet’s The Tin Solider. I think I cried through the entire first act, I was so proud of what we’d built together. That night still sticks in my mind as a moment of perfect bliss.

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

Being dragged into a propaganda war. I believe part of our mission as PR practitioners is to stick to the high road; it’s exhausting to have to spend time dealing with muckrakers.

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

Integrity and altruism.

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


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

My current PR hero is Brian Solis. He has renewed my passion for my profession by celebrating our role as relationship managers. Anyone who manipulates the media and lies in their professional relationships is a PR villain to me.

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

A willingness to exchange ideas. I learn from every conversation I haveand value each opportunity I get to listen to a different viewpoint.

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

Good campaigns always catch my attention,  whether it’s through excellent creative or clever execution. Big ideas always inspire me.

12. Where would you most like to practise PR?

I would love to work with Cirque du Soleil and travel the world,  delighting people with beauty and magic.

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

One of my earliest “film” memories is being captivated by Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch (in To Kill a Mockingbird); he became my personal archetype of integrity.

14. Who do you think has great public relations?

I’ve always been fascinated by the Virgin story—because of Richard Branson’s charismatic leadership and as a classic case study in branding.

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

Elvis Presley. I think he could have been so much more.

16. Who is your favourite writer?

I adore Maya Angelou;  she takes my breath away and challenges me to think big.

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

Conversation: having the ability to exchange ideas and learn from my friends and colleagues every day.

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?

The Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS), because I want to help promote our profession and inspire the practitioners of tomorrow. Ottawa is hosting the national conference in 2013;  I want to celebrate the power PR has to change conversations around important issues.

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

Wherever I am at the moment. I’ve made important contacts in the grocery express line, riding the bus, waiting to get in to a hockey game and in a bookstore.

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

Quitting my first public service job at the age of 30 to work with Frank Augustyn; we were on a mission to bring a new audience to classical ballet.

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

Humility, focus, imagination and conviction.

22. Which talent would you most like to have?

To sing.

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

It ends when I do—but I would like to publish a memoir about my career in PR.

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

Fraught with potential.

25. What is your PR motto?

Find the opportunity!


Léa (Gagne) Werthman, APR, is a 30-plus year veteran of Ottawa’s public relations and communications communities. As a teacher, business owner and public servant, she’s worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, artists, business leaders and innovators who have been drawn to Canada’s capital city. Through the Ottawa-Gatineau chapter of CPRS, Léa Werthman is an active proponent of the transformative power of our craft of PR. She is excited to have been invited to lead planning for hosting duties in 2013, when CPRS’s annual conference comes to Ottawa. Follow her on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn or send her an email.

Catch Léa Werthman at TaketheLeap2012 on February 29th in Ottawa.


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:

Estelle de Beer

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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