Are you a specialist or a generalist?

My friend Kellye Crane asked me to lead a discussion on this topic at the Solo PR Summit later this week. She’s an advocate for vertical integration–picking your industry or sector and drilling down (for clients) from there.

I have a different perspective. I started out in public affairs, where I gained a working knowledge of several different sectors (agriculture, energy, international trade and development) despite walking into my business with a graduate degree in a completely different field. My take is that, as a communications pro, you can learn the “content”; it’s your skill set, not your industry know-how, that is your key selling point.

This is about your business model.

What I love about good topics is how they can evolve in directions you don’t expect. While Crane and I were thinking about the industry question, several colleagues took the “specialist vs. generalist” discussion to be about how broadly or narrowly they should be positioning their core business offerings.

There aren’t any right answers or wrong answers. It’s really about what is the best model for your business.

We’ll have a lot to talk about. And if you’re not going to the Solo PR Summit, please add your two cents here.

Photo by Darwin Bell (Flickr).