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9 More Nuggets of Advice for the Young PR Pro

December 18, 2010 1 comment

Season’s greetings, to all of my readers and supporters! If you know me well at all, you know that the frenzy of the holidays gets me hyped (in a good way). I can’t stop singing Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole songs… In other words, I’m all about holiday cheer, and I wish you and your loved ones a very special holiday season. With that said, I have an article I’d like to share…

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called “9 Nuggets of Advice for the Aspiring PR Pro,” and detailed a few lessons of wisdom that I’ve picked up in the industry. I also promised a follow-up article, and now I’m making good on that promise. Without further adieu…

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9 more nuggets of advice for young PR practitioners:

1 ) Be a consumer of news media. Just because you’re not a journalist doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be knowledgeable about what’s going on in the world, and know how reporters think. Pick up a paper every day, if you can. Bookmark the New York Times or Huffington Post as your Internet browser’s homepage. Make sure to read as much as you can, and have an educated opinion on the “latest” news.

2 ) Learn the art of small talk. If will come in handy more times than you know. Most of the times, you won’t walk into a meeting and get straight to business. That’s not how it works in the real world… Even the most “down-to-business” execs usually want to chitter-chatter for a few minutes. Sometimes a few friendly words exchanged early in the conversation can make the tough questions later on a bit more palatable. Remember, you are dealing with people.

3 ) There’s no “I” in team. Not much more to say here. If you think you can carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, even if you’re built like a professional bodybuilder, you’re severely mistaken. The field of public relations is a team sport.

4 ) Write to be read. It’s not enough to write for yourself; read aloud everything you put to paper (or on the web) before you hit “publish.” Make sure the words you’ve written effectively communicate the desired message. Think about if you’ve represented your client’s wishes. Have you addressed all of the key stakeholders? Is the writing clear and concise? Ask yourself these questions. If it makes sense in your head, but your audience can’t understand or relate to what you’ve written, then your writing is ineffective.

Don't be ashamed to go "back to the drawing board."

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4 ) Some clients will be rude. Just like in middle school, you’ll find that in this career field, you’re not going to be best friends with every client. Rest assured, there will be a small handful of clients that you may secretly wish bodily harm upon. Your task: to keep smiling, be polite, and make sure the work gets done anyway. Remember, you work in “public relations.” Your job is to relate to people; even if they seem to make getting along with you harder than Calculus II. In other words: “take the high road.”

5 ) Think like an editor. When dealing with information, both verbal and written, consider newsworthiness, angle, bias, etc. It will make your dealings with reporters that much easier, reviewing information from all angles before you meet with clients or your boss helps you anticipate all possible questions and/or sticking points before someone else brings them up. You always want to be as prepared as possible.

6) Organize your thoughts with a blog. Start and maintain a blog related to learnings in your field. It definitely helps to analyze your thoughts, and can even help with your career down the line. Just remain transparent in your writings, and keep in mind any confidentiality agreements you’ve signed with your company.

7 ) Things will change… often. How effectively you deal with change (i.e., keep a cool head in the middle of a tornado) directly affects whether you keep your job, get promoted, and succeed throughout your career.

8 ) Pay it Forward. If you keep up with your craft long enough, and follow these tips, eventually you’ll be in a position of power, where you have the ability to teach and mentor others. Remember the help that you received  on your climb to the top of the mountain, and be sure to lend a helping hand to the next person in your shoes.

9 ) Get a good stress ball. Sometimes, it will be your best friend. ‘Nuff said.

So there you have it: 9 more nuggets of wisdom that will serve you well in the public relations world. Hopefully you find these tips useful. And now I turn to you… What are your thoughts?

Agree? Disagree? What advice would you offer to young and aspiring PR pros? Weigh in and post a comment below.

9 Nuggets of Advice for Aspiring PR Pros

November 5, 2010 1 comment

Although I’ve recently graduated from college, I’ve been in the field of public relations for some time now, having gotten valuable experience working with several businesses and non-profit organizations. Over the last several years, I’ve seen quite a bit of both good and bad. I’ve witnessed — and made — mistakes that have taught me valuable lessons for the future, and I’d like share these with anyone considering a career in PR, or as reminders to even the more seasoned industry professionals. I’ll post nine today, and nine next week.

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So here are 9 nuggets of advice for aspiring PR practitioners:

1 ) Know upfront: hand-holding won’t happen. PR is a fast-paced field. Don’t expect that your colleagues will hold your hand or spoon-feed you your work in bite-sized chunks. It’s true, you’re a team, but you still need to keep up with the pack. When you get your first job in public relations, you might not get the chance to only dip your feet in; it’s quite possible that you’ll be thrown in headfirst. Anticipate this and plan from Day 1 to work hard. Be prepared and fully commit yourself.

2 ) Be outgoing. If you’re the slightest bit anti-social, this career path most likely isn’t the right choice for you. You will need to talk to people. Why? Because when it all comes down to it, you are a professional communicator. You’ll need to discuss client expectations and what steps you plan to take to meet them. You’ll need to be able to hold down a basic conversation, listen, ask questions, engage and show a little personality every once in a while.

3 ) Do yourself a favor: learn the utility and format of a press release. Please. Whether you believe it or not, knowing this information will form the backbone of everything you do going forward. Not understanding how to write a press release is like trying advanced algebra without understanding the basic concept of variables. Also, make sure you know how to write a social media press release (I promise you, there’s a difference).

4 ) Deadlines are crucial. While working in PR, you may not have to write a hard news story by a 1am deadline for the local Gazette like a journalist world, however, there will be times that you’re handed a task, with expectations of, “It needs to be done yesterday.” Even if it annoys you, remember: there’s most likely a reason that the deadline is so strict; it must be important. Be excited that you get so much responsibility, take ownership of the task and find a way to get it done with a minimal  amount of whining.

Thou shalt meet deadlines. Thou shalt not whine (audibly, at least).

 

5 ) Plan ahead, and for the worst. Nine out of ten of your clients might be unprepared for a meeting with you, but every single one will want the work done anyway. So make it easy on yourself, and plan ahead where you can.

6 ) Excellent customer service is not just for fast-food restaurant chains; if your clients are consistently dissatisfied with the way you do business, talk to them, etc… Rest assured that you won’t have that PR job long. Go the extra mile, and make sure that every person you work with is taken care of. Even if you can’t make miracles happen, you can try. Most clients will appreciate your efforts. (Some won’t, and that’s okay too. There will be rude clients… you still need to be professional, though.)

7 ) Help others. Take a genuine interest in making sure that those you work with, and work for, have what they need to be successful. Make someone else’s job easier, and they’ll most likely do the same in return for you.

8 ) New media is here to stay, whether you like it or not. You can be tired of new media all you want… When you’re not at work. Utter the words “I’m sick of it” in the office, and you’re as good as out the door. Show me a PR company recruiter who’s not interested in getting their hands on a social media guru, and I’ll show you a recruiter who’s on his or her way out the door him/herself. The Internet and new media are shaping the field of public relations.

9 ) By the same token, know when to put down the new media. I’ve already stressed the importance of knowing how to use social media, but in the same breath, it’s also key to know when to put it down. Facebook and Twitter is not the end-all, be-all of PR; not right now, at least. Remember, social media is a tool, not crutches.


…So there you have it, nine golden nuggets of advice that have helped me to survive in the PR world this long. Hopefully you find them as useful as I have. Make sure to check back next week, when I follow-up and post nine more. Now it’s time to share your thoughts:

Agree? Disagree? What advice would you offer to young and aspiring PR pros? Weigh in and post a comment below.

New Media: You’re Never Done Learning It.

August 18, 2010 3 comments

So you’ve got a Facebook account, and you know how to use Digg. Perhaps you’ve even run a successful social media campaign or two. But do you know which social network will be on top a year from now? Tell me, which iPhone app will be the quintessential tool for public relations professionals in six months?

Relax, this isn’t a test of your psychic abilities; instead, I ask these questions for a different reason. As much as you might think you “get” new media, realize there’s always more to learn.


Change is inevitable. Are you ready for it?

Twenty years ago, the field of PR largely consisted of traditional media relations — newspaper articles, press conferences, etc. But as we ventured into the 21st-century with the birth of the Internet, and Web 2.0, PR has found itself an increasingly digitally-driven industry that is constantly changing to fit the marketplace.

As Web 2.0 has developed, so has PR 2.0. With the advent of the 21st-century’s technological innovations, professionals now have access to many more methods of communication: blogs, social media platforms, mobile technology and more, each of which has distinct advantages over traditional methods, but presents challenges as well.

The field of PR constantly changing. You must be able to adapt.

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Your clients expect you to.

If the last five years have been any indication, nearly every facet of society is adjusting to new media technology. As of just a few days ago, for instance, you can now buy Delta airline tickets directly through their Facebook fan page. The majority of clients out there already expects that teams handling their account are new media-savvy, and this trend will continue. If you expect to have a job in five years, you’d better be up on the latest technology. Clients expect it, and studies project that they will continue to do so. In a recent study by the Pew Internet and the American Life Project, 67 percent of respondents agreed that by the year 2020, Generation Y-ers will still largely use social media as “ambient broadcasters.”

Why?

A big reason is that the immediacy of information made possible by the Internet and social media, in particular, has made it all simply too convenient for Generation Y.

For PR pros, this means the following: don’t expect a social media crash. My prediction is that social media will be around for a good while, and those who work in public relations would be smart to learn all that they can.


It pays to keep up-to-date… literally.

Not knowing how to use new media will lose you clients, simply put. If you don’t know at least a little about social media, clients will move on to someone who does.

Those who spend the time learning new media technology and become proficient are well-rewarded in today’s PR world. They’ve learned the culture and etiquette of various social sites. They know what’s happening across the industry. The recent marketing and ad trends toward mobile and location-based technology, for example. In terms of social media usage, they know what works, and what doesn’t. They know how to find out what’s being said about their client’s company, and more importantly, how to fix the less-than-ideal things. They have experience using social media to manage crisises, and can fully explain their reasoning and method to clients. In short, they “get” it.

But they never stop learning, and neither should you.

If you want a leg up on your competition, you need to realize that new media changes every day and you need to keep up.


You’re not done learning yet.

To keep up with new media technology in today’s fast-paced world, make a personal commitment to constantly be in a state of learning.

Many experts suggest regular participation in ongoing training. Kaila Strong (of TheSocialRobot.com) suggests that social media “webinars,” short virtual workshop-style sessions, are the way to go. These are a great idea, particularly if you can find free ones.

In my opinion, however, the best way to stay on top of new media is to literally keep yourself connected, being an ‘early adopter’ when new platforms are made accessible, and use them yourself as the site culture develops. In addition, read all you can, and take part in the blogosphere (if you’re new to the blogging world, and you’d like to get started, check out this excellent list).

Most importantly, however, take it all one day at a time, and never say that you’re a new media “expert“.

. . . Even if you think are one.


What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Join the discussion and add your thoughts.

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