While solid public relations programs boil down to a few simple, common-sense practices and skill sets, not everyone finds these qualities so simple. The need for clear, concise writing, developing a smart media list and constantly staying on top of news trends are a few of the must-haves. Strong PR practitioners in all industries possess a core set of hard and soft skills that become second nature with experience. However, we are constantly challenged to learn new tools, especially new web-based platforms, while becoming something of an expert in our client’s business.
Whether you’re a novice, somewhat experienced or preparing to run your own PR show, here are a few non-negotiables to ensure you don’t flop. And I qualify that PR specialties such as crisis communications and investor relations require additional, specialized skill sets.
- Be a good writer. Think clean, concise and equip yourself with spell check and Grammarly. Most of our written materials are for a media audience, therefore, keep it succinct, to the point and accurate. Always proofread!
- Know your client’s target audience(s). Marketing 101. All outreach strategies flow from here. The audience is what guides your development of effective media and influencer lists. You will need to keep these lists constantly updated, both manually and via tools such as Cision or Meltwater.
- Know what makes your client distinctive and what makes them newsworthy. The marketing message used in paid media may need to be refined for earned media.
- Know the media and/or influencer audiences and what they cover. The more familiar you are with the outlet, the better your chances for coverage. Also be familiar with deadlines.
- Have related visuals on hand for most every piece of news or feature story pitching. Photos need not be professional, but clear and relevant, and don’t forget to provide a photo credit. All graphic elements should be at least 300 dpi. When working with electronic media, B-roll is helpful.
- Be consistent and persistent. The message and pace of your news flow is consistent – don’t go silent for more than four weeks. That said, don’t put out news or story ideas unless they are thoughtful and newsworthy. Perseverance is key – follow up your initial outreach with emails, phone calls, direct messages (DMs) as appropriate.
- Be responsive and flexible. Your client’s point person should be the same. Media often need additional information, an interview, more photos, etc. within a day or even hours. Be ready to adjust times and locations and know that an interview, possibly the entire story, can be canceled based on breaking news. If your news is still timely, you should be able to re-book later.
- Set measurement expectations upfront along with the definition of success. Quality over quantity always wins. Big reach numbers are nice but small numbers also count when you’re hitting the bull’s eye target audience. Address time frame expectations. Unless you’ve got a special event or breaking news, PR is a marathon vs sprint.
- Develop relationships with media and influencers built on trust. This comes with consistency and reliability over time. Grab coffee or lunch with editors/reporters/influencers. Putting a face to an email address is priceless.
Simple? That’s for you to decide. Drop us a line or give a call if you’d like to keep it even simpler and have a PR pro do the job.