12 Valuable Lessons in Life (and in PR) as told by Francis Del Val (2023)

Francis Del Val is a big name in the business. He is well known as a serial entrepreneur, international business leader, executive coach, CEO, data analytics strategist, among other accolades and titles.

For the team at NGP, we also know him as a good friend.

And like all good friends, we have shared many impactful exchanges about life: growth, leadership, career, and what it truly means to be a part of the ever–evolving PR industry. 

What we’ve gleaned from our most recent conversation with him – during an intimate company event aptly titled Meaningful Conversations with Francis Del Val – is that PR is everywhere. The lessons we learn in the trade can easily apply to everyday life, and vice versa. 

Here, we share all we’ve learned.

  1. Know your purpose. Know your impact. On personal journeys of self-discovery, people often ask “what’s my purpose? What’s my why?” Francis tells us that knowing why you do what you do is important in charting the right path, in making the right decisions, and in creating the most impact. Another important note is that finding one’s purpose is always a work in progress. You never just “find it” and be done with it. You go through life with ever-changing purposes, but with one thing staying consistent: your authenticity.

In business, a question most owners run into while creating their plans is “why do you do what you do?” Why does the business matter to you and to your audience? What impact are you making through your business by helping solve your target market’s problem? How else are you making a positive dent?

Knowing the business’ purpose and impact – the North Star, the Biggest Why, and so on – is essential in making sure it survives and thrives. It will also make relating your brand to the public – through public relations, of course – that much easier. When your business’ purpose is clear, authenticity shines. Authenticity is a cornerstone of PR that makes positive waves for your brand every single time!

NGP loves: this article by Chatterkick CEO Beth Trejo on the definition of ‘Authentic’ in 2023, as seen on Forbes.

  1. Own your work. What is your realm of responsibility? Whatever it is, whoever you are responsible for, you need to own your work. Do what you can, see it all through, and give a hundred percent 100% of the time. This also means that on days when you’re only feeling like 50% but you give the entire 50%, you’ve essentially given a hundred.

In business, where teams are involved, owning your work and giving your 100% to tasks assigned will be imperative to overall success.

In PR, owning your work – your events, your press releases, your messaging, your audience, and whatever you put out – and being consistent with it is key to purposeful and effective results. Even when it comes to crisis management, owning the situation with sincerity and authenticity produces better outcomes (i.e. less negative impact) for brands.

  1. Put people first. “When you put people first, the returns abound. The people you care about will take care of you,” Francis says. For interpersonal relationships, this rings true. More often than not, you truly reap what you sow. 

In business, Francis reminds that putting people (employees, partners, collaborators, etc) first, by listening to their concerns and making sure that they’re taken care of, will often ensure that they will put your business at the forefront of their concerns, too. 

In PR, putting people in the spotlight – their stories, their influence – helps the ‘relations’ part of public relations become all the more impactful. We’ll delve more into this in the next part, which is to…

  1. Humanize. How do you ‘humanize’ life? Francis emphasizes the following:
    • Living and leading life with your head, heart, and hands (and not just one or the other)
    • Thinking, and thinking hard about purpose, impact, and more
    • Living with much consideration and empathy
    • Leading by example, for and with others (instead of just for self)
    • Live embracing commitment to get the job done – whatever that task may be

And you humanize business and PR the same way. When businesses and brands include head, heart, and hands – fact-based, decisive, empathetic action – in the very core of their business, a more human, more relatable connection is established. Taking purpose, impact, consideration, empathy, and a commitment to delivering all that – brand promises! – for your target audience helps humanize brands to build relevance.

What’s the best way to do this, you might ask? PR pros know the answer well. It’s through storytelling. When you infuse real human stories into your brand, you get the opportunity to create unique connections with your target audience.

READ: Storytelling humanizes brands, as seen in The Role of Storytelling in PR

  1. Help things move forward (not back). How do you help yourself, your organization, your business move forward? The answers are the same for whatever you want to push:
    • Make the difficult calls, but be fair about them.
    • Be helpful, and don’t be a burden.
    • Be patient, but don’t coddle.

The PR equivalents of these are:

  • Invest in your PR (all aspects of it!), and maintain best practices (more on that below).
  • Make sure your PR/content adds value somehow. 
  • PR takes time, but the results are unparalleled. Patience and consistency – no shortcuts or compromises – are key.
  1. Keep your moral compass in check. As above, we mentioned that purposeful and effective PR that helps brands move forward towards their goals are ones that follow best practices – including engaging in ethical, morally upright work.

NGP-IMC CEO and Founder Nancy Pascual has always said, “I believe we all have a calling, and I also know that mine is to create a positive impact through PR. To me, it is about as noble a calling as there is.” 

And so the team at NGP has also taken this to heart: we’ve focused on telling real, authentic stories that have the potential to create a positive impact on the lives of Filipinos! When it’s not aligned with our values, we’re not afraid to say no. When we know it’s a story worth telling from a brand worth knowing, we pull out all the stops to give the best possible campaign results.

(If this sounds like a company culture you’d like to thrive in, feel free to browse our careers!)

  1. Overcommunicate. “There’s no such thing as overcommunication,” Francis says about the importance of communication in the industry. PR is all about communicating, after all. “Consistency, repetition, helps drill the message through.”

The beauty of PR and IMC lies in all the different ways brands can communicate their message over several different media touchpoints so that audiences are always engaged. Others might call it carefully-timed, data-backed overcommunication. We call it consistency that gets results.

In life and in careers, Francis also emphasized that there’s still no such thing as overcommunicating. Transparency and frankness (with kindness) are well received by those who truly matter in our lives.

  1. Grow through the tough conversations. In life, in business, and even in PR, Francis reminds: “Some conversations are difficult, but they’re necessary. They help us grow the most.”

Think about the last difficult conversation you had with someone important to you. How did you grow from that? What did you learn from it?

  1. Fail fast, learn faster. Have you got your answers from the previous questions? 

One insight Francis provided to help get to those answers is to fail fast and learn faster. “Don’t be afraid to fail, because failing means you’ve tried. Trying means you’re that much closer to winning. But how will you know if you succeed or fail if you never do it? You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, after all!”

Luckily, in PR, there’s no need to blindly try. Data abounds, and the best PR pros know how to use that to their clients’ advantage.

  1. Know your limits. “Stretch them, don’t break them,” Francis says. “Trust that you’re capable of surprising yourself.”

Knowing what you stand for, what you refuse to tolerate, and opening your mind to what else could be possible, are key drivers towards achieving success in life. 

He also shared a story about rubber bands: how they’re made to be stretched to accommodate as much as their capacity can handle, but not more than – or else, they snap. Discover limits, stretch towards them, but never overstep or break them. 

NGP loves: this LinkedIn article by First Technology Group Executive Wyand Roos titled “The Rubber Band Effect: How a stretch-reset approach can optimise your organisation’s performance”

Knowing your brand’s PR limits are crucial to ensure you’re staying within best practices. A knowledgable PR and IMC partner can help you take the guesswork out of your strategies and identify what’s possible, what’s new and out-of-the-box to try (2024 IMC trends, for example), and what won’t work.

  1. Pay it forward. Ms. Nancy Pascual said it best: “PR isn’t going anywhere.” And because the industry is set to stay relevant through the years, the need for uncompromising PR professionals remains. 

Francis’ nugget of wisdom for this is simple: “Pave the way for them. Train and mentor the young and lead with generosity and openness. Multiply the capabilities as best you can.” 

  1. Never stop learning. Though an age old adage, this still rings true even in the digital age. If you’re not learning, then you’re stagnating. 

Learn how to be a better person; learn how to conduct business better; learn how to do better PR; and so on. There’s so much to learn and so much to look forward to. In 2023 alone, many algorithm changes, policy revamps, and ever-evolving trends informed our PR strategies and charted a different path for many campaigns. No matter what, we learned.

And as Francis says, “if you’re not exercising the gifts you’ve been given, you’re short changing yourself.”

Harmony Adiao-Carrillo
Harmony Adiao-Carrillo is the editorial lead of NGP-IMC.