By Carrie Morgan
We all like to complain about “those” PR professionals.
The ones who create a social media crisis instead of beneficial buzz, a la Justine Sacco.
The ones who make mincemeat of pitches so badly they are publicly shamed by aggravated journalists and bloggers.
The ones who think any PR is good PR, like the Philip Seymour Hoffman celebrity product endorsement debacle.
It’s fun to bemoan the disasters, and criticize those who are doing things wrong, even taking on the public relations industry as a whole.
But are we doing enough to promote the right skills? To transform so-so account executives into really great ones?
The PR Industry Can Do Better
I think we can improve.
Here are three quick ways to become a better account executive.
1. Make their priority YOUR priority. It’s not just a pat statement to put in your agency customer service playbook. When you deeply understand what your client is trying to accomplish, your PR efforts are more likely to create positive, measurable results. The underlying tactics may shift radically. It allows you to define specific goals for your campaigns and programs that align with what is most needed to help their organization be successful.
When the conversation transitions from creativity and content to results and metrics, you are instantly identified as a more sophisticated, analytical thinker. This rapidly sets you apart from your task-oriented colleagues, and is a clear transition point from a coordinator-level position to one capable of handling and guiding clients.
This rule of thumb can also help you remember business comes first.
As stated by author Robert Solomon, “No matter how many dinners you attend or how friendly you become with a client, NEVER mistake your relationship for personal friendship. Never forget the person sitting across from you is always your client.”
2. Learn new skills, test new tools, and grow. Agencies are notorious for falling short on training their employees. The most beneficial thing you can do for your own career is to continue learning. Try new tools and use social media platforms to gain experience that you can apply to clients.
Always, always aggressively expand your skills. Our industry is shifting quickly. A strong commitment to continued learning is the only way to stay ahead of the curve.
How much time should you invest in yourself? I’d recommend at least an hour a week. Get outside of your comfort zone so learning becomes a habit.
Aggregate and curate industry articles that interest you, by commenting and sharing.
This helps you learn, and positions you as a budding authority. You’ll boost your career skills and your client skills at the same time.
3. Help your clients become more integrated across their entire marketing strategy. While you may be great at public relations, every company is now struggling to eliminate silos, and make their marketing efforts more integrated to increase ROI.
If you can help? MAJOR brownie points. It doesn’t take senior level skills to do this.
Include Tweet-ready summaries and quotes at the bottom of each news release.
Pitch complete blog posts, not just bylines.
Start wrapping a single keyword or phrase into your content.
Make sure every blog post is also pinned and shared across the client’s social media platforms.
Put that client’s financial roadshow or sales presentation on SlideShare.
Focus on turning every PR asset into multiple pieces of re-purposed content – you’ll have more placements to show, plus you’ll be helping the client get the most out of their PR retainer with improved visibility. You’ll be demonstrating skills many of your peers aren’t doing yet.
Trust me, your supervisor will notice.
Image courtesy of AndrewIsTaken on Flickr.