What You Need to Know
After almost 25 years in a business that I love, I am beyond excited that my eldest daughter will soon be embarking on her own unique career path in communications. We have spent the last few months checking out universities and colleges that offer an impressive array of specialized programs – it’s a brave new world for future PR professionals.
In honour of this personal milestone, I wanted to instill my old-school values with new school attitude and share some universal truths about what it takes to be successful in the industry. Here are three things you need to know:
Know your Stuff
Never forget the beauty of the written word – a well-crafted press release or timely pitch is still an essential tool to get the message across. The first step is always to ask all the right questions and really listen to the answers; the devil is in the details. Always start by finding out everything you can about the product or service you are promoting, there are no shortcuts here so dive in. Have you tried it, tasted it, checked out similar brands, gathered enough information to offer constructive feedback to your client and credible insight to the media? Methodical research will also reveal your intended audience, one master media list does not fit all. Who will you approach, what are their interests and what is the relevance to their audience? Are you chasing the elusive millennial or the often-overlooked boomer? Find out and then take the time to actually watch those shows, follow the feeds or read back stories from the people you are pitching. Bottom line, be prepared.
Know your Goal
It almost goes without saying but before you start you should know where you are going and why you’re heading in that direction. Everyone must be clear about establishing the relevance of an announcement, launch or campaign. In other words, is it new or interesting enough to get the attention of the intended audience and achieve the results to meet expectations? Is your motivation reactive or proactive? Define the call to action, should it be driving retail sales or traffic to the website or building overall brand awareness? Seasonality is a predictable cycle in the news that can often dictate the optimal timing for outreach to traditional media. We used to cast a wide net to target general interest national and regional outlets but with the emergence of social media, it’s more about niche and influence. A picture (on Instagram) may be worth a thousand words but everyone still loves a good old-fashioned clip in the paper, so establish what constitutes success and then go from there.
Know your Role
Sometimes in an effort to get the job done, we forget that our intrinsic value comes from the ability to provide valid recommendations that come from our experience and perspective on the front lines. We need to be inspired and inspire with our work and our strategies. Success comes to those who are willing to negotiate, facilitate and make things easy for everyone else to understand. Give your contacts what they want when they need it and you will be rewarded. Even with the ever-evolving role of influencers and sponsored content, we may have more control of the message than ever but let’s not lose sight of authenticity. Credibility and mutual respect are what foster relationships that matter and a good reputation can only be earned over time.