I thought I would change things up a bit today, and instead of looking outward at a campaign or trend, I would shine the light on the PR industry. Specifically, I’d like to share some learnings from my 10+ years as a marketing communications professional. I don’t think of these as being “tips” or “tricks,” these aren’t shortcuts to success. This is advice for someone who wants a career, not just a job.
So, here are Six Suggestions To The Young PR Professional:
When you are starting out you want to impress your colleagues, your boss, your client and the media with your knowledge, ideas and understanding. I get that, it’s natural. But you will learn a lot more, and be appreciated a lot more, by listening. Not just hearing, but really listening.
Listen to reporters and producers. What do they need? What are your client’s pain points? How can you help your superiors? You can only learn the answers to those questions by listening. I’ve been in PR for more than a decade and I learn more from listening to a Junior Account Executive than I do from hearing myself talk.
We live in a 24/7, Social Media shorthand world. But the oldest of old skool skillz, writing, is still incredibly valuable. Yes, you should use proper grammar and spellilng, but that’s not really what I’m talking about. I mean being able to articulate your point of view in a coherent, logical manner that is both persuasive and brief. That’s a skill that is appreciated and effective.
It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of calling the media when you need them for a story. Ok, that’s business. But how are you helping them when there isn’t something in it for you? Try calling up a reporter sometime and saying, “This has nothing to do with any of my clients, but I know you write about X and thought this might be helpful.” Now repeat that five times before you ask them for something. See what happens.
Now, more than ever, the PR profession needs thinkers. People who can come up with relevant, unexpected and compelling ideas. Not just PR ideas, but big, game changing ideas. PR pros are busy, we have a lot on our plates, but find a little time every day to think, learn, listen, read.
5. Be Positive
The PR profession can be exciting, fun and challenging – but it isn’t easy. You can work tough hours, have demanding deadlines and in reality you have three masters – your boss at your agency, your client and the media. You are beholden to all of them, and their needs don’t always align. It’s real easy to get overwhelmed. The best way to deal with all of this? Have a positive attitude and remember, you aren’t a neurosurgeon or air traffic controller. Those people deal with real crisis. A press release with a typo is unfortunate; missing a deadline is disappointing. But you are not dealing with a crisis.
6. Be an expert
You are asked to do many things as a PR professional. Be creative, be good with clients, communicate well both verbally and on paper. You have to be a jack of all trades. But real value comes when you are a best in class expert. It could be in just about any subject. But if you know more than anybody else at your agency about a given subject, you become really valuable. Again, the question is: Do you want a job, or a career? If the answer is the latter, become an expert.
Thanks for giving me your time, I know that is the most valuable commodity you have and I appreciate you giving some to me. I’d love to talk to you and answer any questions you may have. Feel free to reach out to me at sportspr[at]yahoo[dot]com.