PRoust Questionnaire: Peter V. Stanton

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.

Peter V. Stanton, CEO, Stanton Communications

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

The belief that I set and adhere to a high ethical standard.

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

Lack of Twitter use.

3. What is your favourite occupation in PR?

Running my own firm.

4. Why do you work in PR?

I fell into it by accident; now I am convinced it is what I was meant to do.

5. What is your idea of PR nirvana?

Creating a plan and seeing it come to fruition.

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

The group edit.

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


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

Arrogance and puffery.

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

[Hero]: A client CEO who, when faced with a “lose-the-company” level crisis and having listened to a gaggle of so-called experts say what ought to be said and done, comes back with the answer,  “Well, I think the truth is a good place to start.” [Villain]: The agency head who publicly claims the firm is the agency of record for a major corporation when it was not. Despite repeated directives from the company in question to cease and desist, he or she persists for years for personal aggrandizement.

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

The opportunity to share ideas and compare strategies.

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

Influence can take many forms. As a Silver Anvil judge, I have reviewed some truly innovative and creative programs. Many have stimulated and shaped my own thinking about clients and how to approach their requirements. There is some really tremendous work being done in our field.

12. Where would you most like to practise PR?

The Lake Como region of Italy might be nice.

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

Saul Bellow’s short story, “Him With His Foot in His Mouth.” It’s the tale of a man attempting to articulate a fairly simple message but having enormous difficulty as a result of myriad complicating factors, events and grave misunderstandings. Helping clients cut through all the complexities and get to the heart of the message is what our agency does every day.

14. Who do you think has great public relations?

Bono: Let’s face it—he is the lead singer in a rock band, yet somehow has managed to gain international acclaim as a thought leader. He was even mentioned as a Nobel candidate. That is outstanding PR.

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

Former US President Richard Nixon. He almost sent me to Vietnam, but I forgave him. Besides, what a challenge.

16. Who is your favourite writer?

The American writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, who lived for a time in Baltimore, my home town. He wrote this line: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” After that, one wouldn’t have to write another word.

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

My colleagues.

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?

Council of PR Firms. Why? Because they would have me.

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

In the meetings and discussions with the partners of our international consortium – ECP Global. The opportunity to have dialogue with communications professionals from around the globe is both productive and compelling.

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

I left a perfectly good job at an absolutely fine agency to start my own firm. It could not have been a better decision and it made all the difference in my professional life.

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

The ability to write. Twitter has not changed that fundamental requirement, yet schools are sending us grads that lack this basic skill.

22. Which talent would you most like to have?

I very much would like to speak French…and Italian.

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

Writing a book on public relations strategy.

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

It is as it has been throughout the course of my 35-year career: Dynamic, intellectually stimulating and thriving.

25. What is your PR motto?

Our good work speaks for us.


Peter V. Stanton, CEO, Stanton Communications, is a public relations professional with more than 35 years experience in public relations and strategic counsel. He founded the company in 1989 and has since grown Stanton Communications as a leading mid-sized communications consultancy with offices in Washington, D.C., New York and Baltimore, Maryland. He is also chairman of the international network of independent PR firms, ECP Global Communications.

Connect with Peter on LinkedIn or 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 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:

Mat Wilcox

Anne Gregory

– Markus Pirchner

Heather Yaxley

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4 Replies to “PRoust Questionnaire: Peter V. Stanton

  1. Hello Heather – Thank you for your very thoughtful comment. I could not agree more about the importance of the ability to think. Having been educated by Jesuits, I learned early that one makes little progress in life or career without intellectual investment. In answering as I did, I was thinking more about what schools are in a position to actually teach these days. We see so many graduates who lack sound writing skills. Without that, it is difficult to express one’s ideas, perspectives or recommendations. Perhaps I am enough of an old koot that I hold to the belief that writing will continue to be imperative long into the future. But you impress me as not an old koot and your writing on your own blog is particularly well done. Perhaps we can share the hope that young professionals will be inspired by your example and encouraged by my admonition.

    Happy New Year,

  2. Peter – interesting answers. Not totally convinced by “the ability to write” in isolation from the ability to think or in preference to an ability to communicate. Do you really believe that written communications will continue as the dominant medium in future – and surely we need to be able to think in order to write (or more generally communicate)?

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