Lee Levitt, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 80, continues to be remembered as a PR practitioner who gave much to the profession; as someone who lived up to his characterization as an industry visionary.
Paging through Lee’s “Manual of PR Sales Strategy & Tactics,” the insights he offers are as relevant today as when he wrote them in 1992, and apply across all professional service disciplines, not just PR. Here are a few Levitt gems:
- “What most managements want to buy today is the accomplishment of specific substantive corporate / institutional goals… So that is what you must sell. You cannot simply come in and enumerate the skills you have, the technical things you can do. You must explain how applying them will solve some substantive problem or take advantage of some substantive opportunity.”
- “Telling people that you are going to counsel them can make you seem presumptuous and arrogant. No matter how diplomatically you put it, you seem to be saying that management is dumb and benighted, while you are smart and enlightened.”
- “What prospects really want to hear about is themselves. They want you to tell them about themselves in exactly the same words they use… And they want you to want their business and be enthusiastic about it.”
- “Never criticize what the prospect has done in the past. Let the prospect tell you what went wrong and whose fault it was… If asked if you could have done better, say you hope so.”
- “Most salespeople believe it is their job to talk, and up to a certain point that is true. But once the prospect is primed to talk, it is your job to shut up and listen. Some salespeople never learn this.”
If you can find a copy of Lee’s book, buy it and read it. If you have a copy on your bookshelf, pull it out and re-read it. But don’t ask to borrow my copy, because it’s not going anywhere.
Lee Levitt embodied craftsmanship in public relations, and left a lifetime of wisdom for those who follow in his footsteps.