As 2013 draws nearer to an end, it’s the perfect time to reflect on your year’s work, and start making professional goals for 2014. In evaluating myself, I’ve come up with a list of habits that I strive to incorporate on a daily basis that may be helpful to include in your list of ‘PR Resolutions.’
1.) Think strategically. In the PR industry, it’s easy to be more tactical than strategic. Strategic thinkers work a little harder to find what’s driving trends and changes in your client’s industry, understand current economic signals and trends and anticipate what this means for business in the long run. Focusing on “why” leads to better media pitches, messaging, customer relations and long-term marketing strategies.
2.) Consume media. Staying current on the latest news and learning about the journalists you work with is crucial if you want to stay on top of your PR game. I believe my fellow Groupie Erin Gagnon summed it up nicely: “As a PR professional, we consume media as if through an IV—there’s a constant drip of news flooding our waking hours, and that’s how we like it.” It doesn’t matter how you get it, whether it be through Twitter, TV, print radio or email, just stay plugged in to what’s going on in the world.
3.) Read for fun. When you’re not consuming the media, working or being awesome, do something fun for your brain: read. Read books that challenge you and teach you things you don’t already know. As a bonus, reading books written by authors you admire is the best way to become a better writer.
4.) Take chocolate breaks. Okay, so this one has not been statistically proven to make you a better PR pro, but it makes me a much nicer person.
5.) Listen. Becoming a good listener takes time. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m still working on it. Here’s what I do know: truly listening requires fully engaging in any conversation you are having, staying quiet and thinking before you speak. Maintain eye contact, ask follow up questions if appropriate and follow up on a discussion you’ve had with a client (or family or friend) to make an impression and really show people you’re interested in their information. If you have any other good listening tips, feel free to post them in the comment section below.
6.) Unplug. As a PR pro, perfecting the work/life balance can be tricky. For me, turning off my phone or being without service is absolute torture. But often, the things that make you toss and turn at night can be done the next day. Clearing your head at the end of the day and on weekends and make room for new ideas for your clients, strategic thinking, individual productivity and a happier state of being.
7.) Embrace technology. Whether you like it or not, the world is going digital. Conversations about social media and technology should come naturally to PR pros, and it’s our job to stay ahead of technology. In the book “Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional,” we learn about the PR/marketing professionals’ role as a “Technology Tester.” It’s not enough to be knowledgeable and up to speed on the use of social media channels, tools and technology resources, you must also “test the latest technology, personally” so you can educate and redirect your client to implement the right communications process. Staying on top of technology can be easy and fun. Try following blogs like TechCrunch and Mashable to understand the language and become adept at the latest and greatest technological advancements.
8.) Help others. At the Bradford Group, we push ourselves everyday to be better and do new things that “surprise and delight our clients.” However, we know that our team is much stronger when we collaborate. Being a team player not only means that you take the time to help others when they ask, but you also notice the ‘need to help’ BEFORE your colleague reaches out. Being the kind of PR pro who senses the need for collaboration and assistance not only goes a long way to make the office a happier place but it will reflect in client work that you submit. And a delighted client is the best kind of client.
I’d love to hear your tips on becoming more effective. Leave your comments below.