Public Relations, PR

Earlier this month, PR Advanced: Breaking Barriers held its New England regional conference on Boston University’s campus, bringing together a spectrum of PR professionals and beginners for a day of informational sessions, networking, and free snacks.

The day started early at 8 a.m. with a keynote address from Graham Kahn, Director of Social Advertising and Insights at Digital Royalty, followed by two breakout sessions including, “Innovative & Engaging Campaigns” and “Journalists’ Relationships with PR, Advertising, and Marketing Pros.”Both sessions included great discussions and insights from professionals that PR novices like myself could learn a lot from. Here are seven tips that I picked up from the conference that I’ve taken into my tech PR career, and might help others trying to break into the PR services industry.

1. People aren’t fans of facts or brands, they’re fans of personality.

Justin Joseph, Director of Global Public Relations for Best Doctors, Inc., moderated the session on journalists’ relationships with PR, advertising, and marketing Pros, and came out with this sound advice for anyone trying to establish good media relations between themselves, their clients and a journalist.

While a press release needs good facts and figures to show a journalist the info is relevant to their interests, the personality behind the PR person and the people behind the companies are what’s going to help a brand stick and promote a solid and friendly media relationship. Be humorous and friendly (within reason), and know when you can take off your “professional” cap and switch it out for one that looks to make a connection with the person – and not just get your news placed.

2. If you want to get the consumer involved in your brand, make them feel like they relate to you.

Similarly to point number one, making the connection between your brand or your client’s brand, and the consumer, boils down to personality and making consumers feel like they have something in common with you. No one wants even more useless information thrown at them on a daily basis than they already are getting from their computers, TVs, smartphones, radio and every other tech device we use every day, so it’s your job to show that the information you have will directly affect them. Getting into PR means you like working with people and love to communicate ideas and news, and it’s your job to do it in a way that is inviting and makes the consumer feel at ease.

3. Even if you lose, you can make it a win with the way you handle it.

In PR, rejection isn’t uncommon. Every PR person has war stories under their belt of a particularly embarrassing or harsh time a press release has been rejected, for example, and it’s easy to get down on yourself about it. But just because someone rejects you now doesn’t mean they will every time – perhaps the reporter just isn’t working on that type of story now, or is just swamped with deadlines and doesn’t have the time. If that’s the case, feel out from their response if there’s room to create a friendly relationship with that reporter for the next time. Even though it’s easy to feel defeated and shy away at your loss, try and turn it into a victory and salvage your efforts. It’s all about personality and relationships, remember?

4. If you work in public relations, don’t get too used to 9-to-5.

That means when you’re home from the office and on the weekends. In an agency setting, you’re the one behind the scenes making other brands thrive. You’re constantly monitoring for opportunities for your clients and perfecting what they need to successfully run their business. If you want a job that you can forget about after the 9-to-5 grind, this profession might not be for you.

5. Content is moving at the speed of culture…

… And it’s your job to keep up with the pace. People and consumers are constantly looking at news and products online or in magazines and papers while they’re on their commute, waiting for a friend to meet them for coffee or even while they’re getting their hair done. Technology means content is always being updated, and it’s your job in PR to match that pace (or, as PR pro Mark Nardi suggested in his breakout session, it’s your job to be ahead of this pace) and get your content out there. Always be looking for new places to get your brand or your client’s brand out there, and stay in peoples’ minds.

6. Your phone is your superpower and your thumb is your weapon.

In today’s world, mobile is more powerful than ever. On-the-go content is what’s being looked at and it’s how brands are reaching consumers. Keeping that in mind will get you far when looking to stay ahead of the curve and to reach consumers. Always be tweeting (and if you’re not on Twitter, get on it), always be posting on LinkedIn and Facebook and any other social media sites that will reach people. A mobile strategy will help you stay relevant and in the spotlight with your brand.

7. This is the most exciting time to be in PR, ever.

… At least that’s what Joan Schneider, CEO and Creative Director at Schneider Associates, told us at Advanced, and who am I to disagree with such a PR pro? It’s a great outlook for us newbies trying to get our foot in the door of a great field, and an exciting thought at the work that can be done in PR at this time.


This post was first published by Shannon Nargi on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.