Good public relations starts with a strong foundation and a keen understanding of how to properly execute the components of a strategic communications plan. If you’re new to the PR industry, here are five tips you can implement to help you advance your knowledge, further your experience and achieve success for your clients.
- Proofread proofraed proofread! Did you catch that? Good. Every public or client-facing document should be proofread multiple times before being sent—preferably by someone other than yourself. This applies to everything from client emails to byline articles. Some tips for effective proofreading include reading a document aloud, walking away from the document and coming back to it later, and changing the size or color of the text to trick your brain into thinking it’s seeing something new.
- Do your research. Instead of blasting your press release to every contact at the local paper, do your homework. Find the right reporter covering that topic or specific beat and dig around to see who has been writing about similar topics. This is especially true when you’re pitching national outlets. Doing the critical legwork on the front end will pay dividends on the back end and help foster positive relationships. When those reporters see your emails in the future, they will know they are getting quality content related to their beat.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Whether you’re collaborating with a coworker, manager or client, it’s important to make sure you have a clear understanding of what’s being asked of you. Clients may not always be available to answer your questions, so it’s important to understand your direction and the next steps, which might mean asking questions to gain clarity when you have their attention. Or, even if you are just curious about why something is done a certain way, don’t hesitate to ask a coworker or another professional to experience, share and learn from their career path. Asking questions will help you become a seasoned and multi-faceted PR professional.
- Pick up the phone. In our tech-driven world, it’s easy to get caught up in an email bubble. Sometimes, the best way to reach a contact is by picking up the phone. Media members are bombarded with emails on a daily basis, so yours might get lost in the shuffle (or accidentally sent to a spam folder). Getting a reporter on the phone is a great way to ensure they hear your pitch and have all the information they need; plus, it allows you the opportunity to determine their interest almost immediately. But make sure to be respectful of their time. Instead of starting with your elevator pitch right away, make sure to ask if they have time to talk. If not, ask when a better time to reach them would be.
- Own your mistakes. Despite your best efforts, mistakes will happen. When you make a mistake, own it. Learning a valuable lesson and doing it right the next time is the best possible outcome from any kind of mistake. If you’re new to PR, understand that you will make mistakes as you learn and grow, but you will also get better with experience. Lean on those around you who have been there before and figure out what you can do better next time. And don’t be afraid to ask a professional with years of experience about their mistakes. They will surely have some good stories to tell.
Even the most seasoned veterans can fall victim to some mistakes, but remembering these tips will help create a strong foundation for career success and stellar results for the client.
Do you have additional rookie mistakes that you’ve experienced? Feel free to share your tips or lessons learned in the comments!