Whenever I consult with clients on public relations or present the “wide, wild world” of PR to college students, the presentation framework centers around what I call the Golden Rules of PR. Simplified, these are the ideal behaviors and best practices that withstand the test of time.

So here I present these rules that experienced PR professionals know, and the newbies should quickly learn in the course of their careers.

Based on the type of PR one practices, my professional peers may have a few more rules to insert. And, I’ve inserted a newer rule generated by the birth of social media. However, the following rules are indeed golden and should be second nature for anyone in our business. In no particular order:

Utilize consistency and frequency of your messages over time.

You’re only as good as your last hit. Generate regular news, content and story ideas. Be proactive and reactive

Well-written materials are a must!

Clean, concise, journalistic writing required. Leave the clever, subjective language to the advertising and marketing folks.

Be familiar with the AP (Associated Press) writing stylebook.

These guidelines are updated regularly to include new terms. For example: “Google” as a verb, “nonbinary,” and “retweet,” but there are core rules that do not change related to grammar, punctuation, capitalization, abbreviation, etc.

Be a news hound

Understand the medium as a consumer as well as an insider (ie, know deadlines, editorial beats) and how to provide maximum value to the media.

Know your client/business’s audience, key competitors and business trends.

Whether you’re working at an agency or in-house, understanding your client’s business environment as well as their external stakeholders is critical to PR strategy.

Be very responsive and flexible with media.

They are on constant and often shifting deadlines, so “must have tomorrow” could change to next week or now.

Editorial writing/content output rules:

– Avoid industry jargon with few exceptions such as working with trade media.
– Have accompanying quality images readily available, including photo credit for photos.
– Don’t let anything go out the door until proofed by at least one set of qualified eyes.
– See rule #2 above.

Be honest and accurate, especially when dealing with media.

Honesty is the best policy – you will never be a trusted source, therefore, a reputable PR person without it.

Nurture relationships with media and key influencers.

Technical skills are required, however, respectful, genuine relationships will take you to a higher level of practice.

Media interviews:

Unless you state, “this is off the record,” (verbal or written), everything is “on” the record. And, minus a few legally-bound situations, do not say “no comment.” Much better: “I don’t know, but will try to get you an answer.”

Social media messaging should be in sync with PR messaging.

The PR team/person should coordinate all organic social media postings. Social media is often the front line in crisis communications which is a function of PR.