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10 Tips to Become a More Successful PR Pro

By: Guest | November 3, 2010 | 
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Guest post by Matthew Royse, author of Knowledge Enthusiast.

In today’s ultra-competitive PR world you need to find ways to stand out. Following are 10 things that continue to help me become a more successful PR pro. I hope they help you, too.

Do your homework. A mass pitch never amasses a lot of coverage. Before you pitch a journalist or blogger, know what they cover. Research their past stories and fine tune your pitch to appeal to their audience.

Learn something new. Take a training course. Sign up for a conference. Go back to school. Take an online certification like HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification. You may find out you know more than you think.

Become a better writer. Practice being a “headline communicator” by learning how to hook your audience with your first five words. Find creative ways to flex your writing muscle. Become a contributing author to an industry publication. Start your own blog or write for your company’s blog.

Develop deeper relationships. Remember how powerful and memorable handwritten thank you notes are in today’s online world. Look for new and creative ways to keep yourself top of mind in the eyes of your stakeholders. Don’t forget that relationships are best built face-to-face than over the phone or on a computer.

Learn how to better manage the yes. This is a twist on managing the no. Learn how to better manage the expectations of others. Make sure that you set the scope of work and discuss desirable outcomes. Make sure you always under-promise and over-deliver.

Prioritize. When you feel overwhelmed by multiple large projects, step back and remember what’s most important to accomplish today. Create a to-do list at the end of every day, so when you come into work the next morning you know what you need to do first.

Be more resourceful. If you can’t reach a journalist or blogger over the phone or by email, search for them on Twitter and send them a message. Find creative ways to pitch beyond the standard press release. Seek out the stories journalists are working on by using services like HARO and NewsBasis.

Take advantage of social media. More journalists are using social media to find story ideas and sources. Use sites like Muck Rack, MediaOnTwitter, and Journalist Tweets to find out who’s online and how to contact them.

Network, Network, Network. Join professional PR associations like PRSA or IABC or Ragan. Become a member of your local Social Media Club. Participate in Twitter chats. You never know when a relationship may help you with your current job or finding a future one.

Use free PR tools. Read Jeremy Porter’s 13 PR resources you may have overlooked post. There are many tools out there that can help you deliver tremendous value to your brand or client – without spending a dime.

What tips would you add to this list?

Matthew Royse, author of Knowledge Enthusiast, is a marketing communications manager for Forsythe Technology. He is also a contributor to Ragan’s PR Daily.

51 comments
Haolin_
Haolin_

Great post! I like your suggestion to hone your writing skills. I am not a native English speaker, so it's not easy for me to have the technical writing skills to write a captivating headline. I am still working hard to improve my writing skills. Thanks for sharing these informative tips!

DatingCoachKK
DatingCoachKK

As a NON PR person who is finding her self in the NEED to venture more into this worl I loved, your article. It is very intimidating and some what overwhelming when you are unclear on how to make PR happen. Your tips make it sound easy!

RManning_Mynt
RManning_Mynt

Great article and fantastic tips.. Doing your research is such an important factor that is unfortunately overlooked. One addition that I would add, which falls under the 'become a better writer' tip, is to make sure that you are writing clear messages while eliminating the industry jargon and typical buzzwords from your writing both in collateral and pitches. I actually did a post a few months ago on the '100 PR buzzwords that need to die' http://bit.ly/100PRBuzzwords which is a bit tongue-in-cheek but when you read it may make you cringe at many of the words lists. I can say that I have been as guilty as the next with their use. Looking forward to reading your posts!

graphicjer
graphicjer

Thanks Matt for such an informative post. Wish there was more like this on the web. Seems like "publish or perish" has a social network equivalent.

I am a graphic designer in a small town that often has to stand in for PR duties, this list really helps me with my attampts to support and educate my clients.

journalistics
journalistics

Great post Matt, thanks for including me in the roundup. Any of your points could be standalone posts - great advice for PR pros. I particularly like your suggestion to expand your training with things like HubSpot's Inbound Marketing Certificiation - PR pros need to get up to speed with inbound marketing-type approaches if they aren't already. My favorite point is on the headline writing - I've been working harder to write better headlines. It's important for engaging readers, increasing open rates, and improving your SEO.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

Well, I think I have to give the Spin Sucks crown to @mattroyse this week. I haven't seen the analytics yet, so this based purely on gut, but I think he kicked my butt on number of visitors and comments. First time a guest blogger has ever done that. Nicely done, Matt!

jennalanger
jennalanger moderator

This is a great list because almost all of the tips can apply to all industries and life in general. It's all about using available resources, developing and maintaining relationships, and staying on track. Life lessons that everyone should follow.

Social Media Club and Twitter chats have been great resources for me, along with reading blogs like this one :)

dgaschen
dgaschen

Good article and some useful tips. I'd like to add, "Speak the Language of Business." Mattross touched on the idea of an MBA, and there's good reason for it. It will help you understand that all business decisions are based on numbers. It also will help you translate your results into the language your boss (or client) will understand.

DChatterton
DChatterton

To learn something new, I recommend volunteering in the field. I'm a Board Member for CPRS Vancouver (the Vancouver chapter of the Canadian PRSA), through which I meet many super PR pros from various organizations. I also volunteer to mentor PR students, as a way of giving back to the profession. I learn from their questions and they keep me in the loop about what's being taught in schools these days. As well, I sometimes volunteer my communications services for not-for-profit organizations, such as the David Suzuki Foundation. It's a great way to give back to the community and to flex my PR muscles in a different context from my day job. Some people argue that we shouldn't give our PR skills away for free, but really, the extent to which we do so can be managed with a little common sense. And I believe the greater good shouldn't be ignored. Plus, it's fun!

natalie_f
natalie_f

Great post, Matt. I agree with all your tips, particularly, the "Learn how to better manage yes" tip. Many times PR pros try to take on more than they can handle, but meeting deadlines and over delivering are crucial to going beyond what's expected of you at your company.

I also suggest that being a hybrid professional will help you in a competitive PR industry that is constantly evolving. As mentioned in a blog post from our agency's (PR 20/20) blog, 10 Traits of an Emerging PR Pro http://bit.ly/2QRST, PR pros are expected to be skilled in many areas beyond traditional PR, such as copywriting, blogging, social networking, content marketing and SEO. Taking the initiative to constantly learn as much as possible in various industries and service areas is essential in our industry. Thanks for sharing your tips!

Shonali
Shonali

Nice post, Matt. I'd like to add "consider getting your accreditation." I know the value of accreditation - whether from IABC or PRSA - is often debated, but I found it one of the most useful things I ever did for myself (I'm IABC-accredited), both in terms of learning as well as network-building. It certainly doesn't mean that anyone who's not accredited doesn't know what they're doing; quite the contrary. But especially for pros who are in the 4-6 year stage of their career, it really helps to focus one's thinking and start thinking like a strategist.

JonHearty
JonHearty

Great tips, thanks for the post. Technology is changing the way we meet and interact with people. These are good ideas to help tackle these changes. Thanks, Matthew!

hennamohnani
hennamohnani

I am currently pursuing an Undergraduate Bachelors degree In Marketing Communications and I am an aspiring PR Professional. Great article! Will keep these points in mind :) Thank You

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

Thank you for all the great resources! I would add to "Learn More" with read blogs, listen to podcasts, and take classes that may not directly be PR related. I have found that diversifying your self, activities, and expanding your interests helps to provide a different outlook that can really make the creative juices flow!

mattroyse
mattroyse

@RManning_Mynt That is a great point and thanks for your comment. A lot of people include industry jargon and acronyms in their writing without explaining what those terms mean. It is always best to speak to a lay audience with your communications and use the KISS principle. Keep It Simple, Stupid.

mattroyse
mattroyse

@graphicjer Thanks for your comment and I am glad to hear that you found the post informative. It sounds like you are wearing a lot of "hats," especially the design hat and the PR hat. I believe that a good PR pro wears a lot of "hats."

mattroyse
mattroyse

@journalistics Thanks for your comment, Jeremy. I have been working hard on my headline writing skills as well. I think Twitter is helping me become a better "headline communicator."

DChatterton
DChatterton

@ginidietrich I haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting Martin Waxman, but I do follow him on Twitter.

mattroyse
mattroyse

@natalie_f I agree with you, a lot of PR pros try to do more than they can handle. There is only so much time in the day!

I read your "10 Traits of an Emerging PR Pro" when I was doing research for this post. It was a great read and I highly recommend that PR pros read that post. Great job!

Also, PR pros are expected to do more marketing these days with marketing and PR having more and more turf battles. It is very important for young PR pros to learn about SEO, Analytics and how to write compelling content.

mattroyse
mattroyse

@jennalanger My concentration is in integrated marketing communications (IMC) at DePaul's MBA program.

I agree with @ginidietrich that you should definitely consider Northwestern's IMC degree. It is a great school and program. I moved to Chicago from DC a couple years ago so don't let geography stand in your way of your grad school plans. Chicago has some of the best grad schools in the country.

Good luck on whatever you decide!

jennalanger
jennalanger moderator

@mattroyse @Shonali What did you concentrate on for your MBA? Grad school is definitely still on my todo list. As a community manager though I love the relationships aspect more than the business. I'm not sure if I'd be better off getting a Masters in a communication related field or going for the MBA.

mattroyse
mattroyse

@Shonali I considered getting an accreditation a couple years ago but never got around to following through. Business school then took priority. I highly recommend PR pros think about getting their MBA. It has been a great experience for me.

I have heard mixed reviews about accreditations but it sounds like that it is worth a second look. Thank you for sharing your experience. Congrats by the way!

I think that there comes a time in your PR career where you need to take your career to the next level and I think an accreditation can help a lot of PR pros become more successful.

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

@Shonali I never even thought of this. It's a great idea and something to keep in mind for young professionals as we grow in our career. Thanks Shonali!

mattroyse
mattroyse

@JonHearty Thanks for commenting. You are right, technology is really changing how we network, communicate with each other and work as PR pros. Actually, a majority of these tips have either a direct or indirect connection to technology.

mattroyse
mattroyse

@hennamohnani Good luck with your PR career after graduation! Please let me or Gini know how we can help you now or after you graduate from school. Thanks for reading and posting.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@mattroyse You are welcome back anytime!! Well, not anytime. The next time I have a killer post in my brain that you can still kill the numbers but not beat me! :)

mattroyse
mattroyse

@ginidietrich Thank you, Gini, for the compliment. I really appreciate it! It means a lot coming from such a successful PR pro like yourself. I also appreciate the opportunity to post on your blog. It is an honor to be able to guest post on the 2010 PR Blog of the Year, according to the PR Readers' Choice Awards.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@mattroyse @rachaelseda I agree with "learn more" and this also goes back to the conversation we had on @justingoldsborough guest post earlier this week - learning more is essential in not only growing yourself as a professional, but also when you are interviewing for a new job. As soon as we stop learning, we may as well be dead.

And Matt?! Thanks for the post! It's really well done!

mattroyse
mattroyse

@rachaelseda I am glad to hear that you enjoyed the post. "Learn more" is a great addition to this list. PR pros need to be interested in more than just their industry, company or client. A lot of great ideas come from other industries and different perspectives. For example, GE benchmarked Motorola before they created their Six Sigma Quality Assurance program.

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