An exciting environment
Forgive us if we’ve mentioned this once or twice before, but this is a really exciting time to be working in PR.
Not only are there tons of clients looking for top-notch PR services, but the internet, and in particular social media, has changed public relations to an incredible extent.
The PR landscape is undeniably different today, and that’s only good news for young, up-and-coming PR hopefuls who grew up in a time of internet saturation.
So if the urge to get into PR is the very first step, the second step might be to ask how you can excel in the field.
That’s exactly why we’re here today: to talk all about how to be good at public relations.
As you might already expect, that’s a very big question that deserves all kinds of in-depth answers, but in the interest of not overwhelming anyone who’s just now dipping their big toe into the warm waters of PR, this will be a cursory guide to PR basics, concepts you should keep in mind throughout your career.
More specific information would depend heavily on the type of clients you work with and the sectors those clients work within.
But the tips provided here should be relevant to any kind of PR effort, regardless of smaller, bespoke goals and campaign types.
Listen to your clients
No matter who your client is and how many Instagram followers they have, you should always treat them with the respect and attention they deserve.
Every client is a big client, and that should translate 100% to any campaign materials you help to create for them.
All of your clients care deeply about the work they do, and as a starting point, you should get to know that work intimately.
But beyond the work itself, clear and effective communication with your client is an absolute necessity.
You should communicate with them often, at least when you have some relevant information to share with them about their campaign.
This steady communication will be a signal that you really do care about the client and their business.
But most importantly, listen to the client as carefully as you can. Even if they’re new to marketing campaigns, they’ll still have a lot to say about what they’re looking for.
For example, a client might say something like, “I don’t think my followers would read this placement.” In addition to the surface meaning, there might also be a subtext here that says, “I had pictured something different when I signed on for this campaign.”
There may be a way to address these concerns through conversation with the client. But if you don’t make the effort to really listen, then you may not even notice that anything’s wrong.
Set reasonable goals
When you’re in the planning stages of a brand new campaign, setting goals and expectations is extremely important.
It’s an essential component of every campaign and it helps clients understand what they’ll be getting for their money.
Now, while just about every PR representative wants to be ambitious with each campaign and may even be tempted to set very lofty goals, this can spell disaster further down the line if those goals don’t align with your own abilities and the abilities of your PR agency.
If you’re hired by a pre-existing PR agency, then the agency will have already established those abilities. In that case, it’s your job to make clear to the client what they can expect.
But if you ever decide to start your own agency, the early days can be difficult in this regard. Those early campaigns will be very amorphous. You’ll still be making important connections and progressing bit by bit.
In a scenario like this one, just be 100% honest with your clients, letting them know what’s realistic and what’s not.
When you’re just starting out, you will be tempted to offer the world to your clients. You’ll want to be the best darn PR rep anyone’s ever seen.
But unless you’re certain you can deliver on all of those high-minded promises, then there’s a significant change that you’ll let your client down, and that’s something you want to avoid at all costs.
Use press releases to your advantage
To any young, aspiring PR professionals out there on the interwebs, press releases might sound very old-fashioned, belonging to a bygone era.
But really, there’s a very good reason they’ve stuck around as a PR standard, even in the internet age.
Let’s say you’ve secured an interview for your client. That’s great news, and it will be a great chance for the client to talk about their work and their personal story.
However, the specific questions being asked will most likely be up to the outlet and the interviewer.
In other words, the interview might not always address specific topics you and the client had hoped to cover.
But with a press release, you and the client have complete control over what gets said.
This makes press releases especially effective for situations where they want to announce a new project, address a recent event, or clarify a stance or action.
Another benefit is that press releases have an inherent sense of credibility, regardless of who is releasing them.
Even just titling something a press release can do a great job of hooking viewers/readers who might not be familiar with your client.
Don’t take criticism personally
Here’s something you’ll have to get used to if you want to work in PR: things just go wrong sometimes.
There will be moments of miscommunication, and there will be moments when your client will be dissatisfied with some aspect of their campaign.
While these instances can be avoided in most cases via the methods we’ve been talking about here, mistakes will still be made.
When you find yourself in one of these situations, don’t take it personally. Own up to the mistake and accept criticism with grace and understanding.
Always be professional and don’t lose sight of the ultimate goals you’ve set.
Dust yourself and get back in there: there’s work to be done.