Category Archives: Entry Level PR

Street smarts or book smarts?

streetsmarts
Many public relations students and new professionals ponder the question, “Should I go to graduate school or get more work experience?”

Essentially, the answer comes down to this: Which is more valuable?

The fact is, both are crucial to success. Let’s start with street smarts. PR, like journalism, is a deadline-driven environment. Public relations professionals often work in a fast-paced environment. On any given day, they are posting comments on their company’s social media sites, fielding questions from the news media, updating their website, and performing many other tasks.

In PR, sometimes you have to react quickly to events of the day. The more experience you have, the better your instincts for finding PR opportunities, as well as managing risks to your company’s reputation.

Experience prepares you to survive and thrive in this fast-paced environment. It gives you the wisdom, judgment and intuition needed to know when – and how – to react to events of the day.

Book smarts, or education, is equally important. In order to thrive in PR, you need both higher-order thinking and technical skills. By that we mean you need to develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills needed to analyze a situation, think through alternatives, and make sound decisions.

You also must develop specific technical skills, such as multimedia storytelling and writing for various types of platforms (i.e., the web, newsletters, etc.). A good education can help you become a better writer and editor, and help you learn to write for different audiences.

Education can also expose you to some of the best thinking in your profession.

The bottom line: PR and communications are constantly evolving. Both education and experience can play a huge role in your success.

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Filed under Entry Level PR, Media Relations, Public Relations, Social Media

What would a PR agency do?

If you’ve ever sought media coverage of your organization, but don’t have a big budget to spend on public relations, you could always ask yourself, “What would a PR agency do?”

Well, here’s our answer:

First, they would try to find something about your business that interests a reporter. Something that is newsworthy. For example, they might tie your business to something already in the news, or find something truly interesting about your business.

Second, they would find the right reporter at your local or trade media outlet and send them a press release or an email summarizing the story about your business. They might include a list of people the reporter could interview at your business, or perhaps customers or others who have a relationship with your business.

Next, they would draft up a list of “talking points” for you to use during your interview. These are key messages about your business, product, event, etc. that you want to communicate to your audience.

Last, they might follow up with the reporter to see if he or she needs any further information for the story. So, for all you do-it-yourself business owners and nonprofit leaders out there who wear many hats, what else would you like to know?

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Filed under DIY PR, Entry Level PR, Media Relations, Press Release, Public Relations, Publicity

Building media relationships…

building

For all of you businesspeople, fundraisers, sales and communications professionals out there, you know that in order to be successful you must do one thing really well: Build relationships.

The same is true in generating media coverage for your organization. It takes time to build relationships with journalists. But when you do, the rewards can be great. Here’s some advice to start building relationships with journalists:

Learn who covers your industry for your regional and trade media. Local print reporters often have so-called “beats” such as business, health and fitness, arts, sports, and so on. Find out who is writing about your area of expertise and follow their stories.

While some television stations have beat reporters, most broadcast media rely more on “general assignment” reporters — meaning that one day they may be covering a court room trial and the next they may be covering a fire. Regardless, be familiar who covers what topics in your local media. The same holds true for trade media. Know the major trade media outlets in your industry. Keep an eye out for who covers topics that relate to your business.

Once you have identified journalists of interest, read or watch their stories and follow them on Twitter. Keep an eye on the kinds of stories they cover and what topics interest them. This will help you tailor your media outreach efforts toward the right reporter.

Building relationships in any endeavor takes time. Begin the process with reporters by passing along items of interest, providing information about your industry, and letting them know that you’re willing to offer comment on breaking news in your industry.

Over time, the journalists you reach out to may call on you to provide context on developments in your industry. In the process, you will not only build relationships, but awareness of your organization and its efforts.

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Filed under DIY PR, Entry Level PR, Media Relations, Public Relations, Publicity, Social Media

3 questions to consider before taking that new PR job

Are you an entry-level or early stage communications professional looking to start your career or move to another job?

We’ve gathered our wisdom on a few items you should consider before jumping at that job opportunity. All of these items can affect your day-to-day activities — and your job satisfaction.

1. How does senior management view communication? It helps to know as much as possible about how the top brass views the role of communications. Do they see public relations as playing a strategic role in the organization’s growth and success, or do they see communications as a supporting role in the company’s larger sales or marketing efforts? Similarly, find out as much as you can about how management views media relations and social media. Are they willing to meet the press and put themselves (or the organization) out there on social media? Do they see value in these tools?

2. What is the organizational culture? This is basically the day-to-day environment in which you will work. Does the organization spend a lot of time planning things in advance, or does it act more spontaneously in response to events of the day? There is always an element of spontaneity in public relations — sometimes, you have to react or respond quickly to events. You have to be nimble and seize the right opportunities to obtain media coverage or get your message out to your audience. However, spending all of your time reacting and little time planning can eventually result in burn out — and loss of quality control.

3. What is the communications mix? Does the workload fit well within your skill set, yet still provide growth opportunities? Ideally, you should be familiar with the main communication tools the organization uses to reach its various constituencies. For example, if video production is a key component of the organization’s communications mix, you should be familiar with how to write a solid script and visualize a story. However, you should have opportunities to learn new skills. Along these lines, consider whether you will have a mentor who can help you learn the industry and navigate you through the organization, or if you will be left to your own devices to learn the ropes.

There isn’t any right or wrong answer to any of these questions. How you answer depends on your work style, how you learn on the job, and what makes for a satisfying work experience. Good luck!

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Filed under Entry Level PR, Media Relations, Public Relations, Publicity