The public relations industry is fast-paced and constantly evolving. It can also be quite stressful. PR professionals must balance more than ever with the integration of social media, content marketing, paid media, analytics and the move toward consistent, measurable outcomes. It’s a lot — and that’s an understatement.
We could (literally) spend days on end in research and analysis, not to mention reviewing countless blogs, case studies and client industry news just waiting to be read.
How to Be Successful in PR (and Maintain Your Sanity)
The balancing act we engage in daily isn’t going away in the foreseeable future. Words like delegation, multi-tasking and creative-problem solving will (most likely) forever be a staple of the PR professional’s vocabulary. Still, there are steps you can take to move from reactive to proactive in a world where most everyone else is just trying to keep their inbox down.
I won’t lead you to believe it’s easy — because it’s not — but I will share some tips you can use to stay ahead, in the know and lower your stress levels at the same time. Every little bit counts, right?
1. Make Time to Stay Organized.
There will never be “enough” time to set aside for organization — you have to make time. If you allocate time at the beginning and end of each day to organize your task list, inbox and projects, you will quickly stand out among your peers. They’ll wonder how you “magically” manage to be on top of projects while consistently bringing fresh ideas to the table for clients. It can be our little secret.
2. Prioritize the Information Onslaught.
Information. Overload. To the max. Sound familiar? There’s just no way to be successful with an overflowing inbox. If your email is out of control, so is your world. This is true whether you’re an intern or the CEO of a PR firm — you MUST tame the beast that is your inbox. Use tools like Unroll.me to organize and streamline your e-newsletter subscriptions. Play the Email Game to help keep your inbox down.
3. Stay Active on Social Media.
Isn’t if funny how we can be online all day for clients and somehow our personal social media profiles never seem to be up-to-date? That’s doable until you find yourself in the position where you’re transitioning your career or a client sees your company Twitter account that hasn’t been updated in weeks.
4. Follow the Influencers.
You don’t have to be the first to know what’s happening in the PR industry or your client industries. That’s too much pressure! Instead, to stay ahead of the curve, just follow the influencers. Create Twitter lists and add influencer blogs and online columns to your Feedly. This will allow you to browse headlines and tweets to stay informed in 140 characters or less. Then, you can share that content within your circles online and offline to build your influence.
5. Read, read, and read some more.
You have to make time to read. There’s no way around it if you want to advance in this industry. Keeping informed within your client industries will allow you to share fresh ideas and honestly, your job will be more fun! Subscribe to SmartBriefs and then add them to your Unroll.me daily Rollup. A great newsletter that I was recently turned onto is The Skimm. It’s absolutely fabulous for keeping informed of U.S. and world hot topics within one email that you can read in a matter of minutes.
6. Polish Your Blogging Skills.
One piece of advice I always give to aspiring PR professionals is to maintain a personal blog. Even if you don’t have a personal blog, look for opportunities to write and proof client or your company blogs. The key is to be able to demonstrate and regularly improve your writing.
Blogging is the new way your writing is evaluated, whether that be a potential employer or a current client considering your company for blog support. The ability to adjust your tone based on whether you’re writing on behalf of a brand, a CEO or your own blog, is an extremely valuable asset for a PR professional to possess.
7. Understand SEO Concepts.
At this point in the game, if you want to stand out and become more valuable to your organization and clients, you must know SEO concepts and basics. Almost everything you and your clients do online factors into SEO. Suggested reading: Andy Crestodina’s “Content Chemistry” and his Orbit Media blog for that matter — it’s like gold.
8. Understand Analytics and Measurement.
Don’t be fooled, analytics are sexy (just ask your clients) and as a PR professional, that’s where you can really shine in relating tactics back to tangible measurement. Seeing web traffic increase from a blog post or media coverage is great but if you can’t explain the implications of that increase, luster is quickly lost. You will earn major rep points with your supervisor, clients and team if you have some data to back up those vanity metrics. This post by Gini Dietrich at Spin Sucks offers tangible ways to dig into measurement and is worth the read.
9. Get Feedback on your Pitches.
I’m of the opinion that every member in a PR team (including leadership) should be pitching in some capacity, whether it be new business or media outreach. Why? It’s freaking scary to pitch, that’s why. If you take your head out of the pitching game for even a week it can be very intimidating to hop back in the mix and get back on that horse.
No matter how long you’ve been pitching, make it a habit to BCC a colleague on a pitch. Even better if it’s a colleague or supervisor with more pitching experience or success because it allows you to up the ante. Show yours and get their honest feedback … Then take note and make your pitches that much better. Win-win.
Don’t stress about getting all this done today. *Collective sigh of relief* Instead, chip away and create a process to keep growing. 😉
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