Matthew Royse

10 Tips to Become a More Successful PR Pro

By: Matthew Royse | December 26, 2017 | 
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PR proIn today’s ultra-competitive public relations world, you need to find ways to stand out from the competition.

  • What can you do to land that dream job or first job?
  • How can you grow and develop in your PR career?
  • What must you do to stay fresh and up-to-date, so you don’t become a “dinosaur”?

There are 10 things you should do to become a more successful PR pro.

PR Pro Tip #1: Do Your Homework

A mass pitch to the media never gathers a lot of press coverage.

Before you pitch a journalist or blogger, know what they cover.

Research and read, listen or watch their past stories.

What types of articles do they write?

What kind of radio or television segments do they produce or lead?

Fine tune your pitch to appeal to them, their media outlet, and most importantly, their audience.

PR Pro Tip #2: Learn Something New Every Day

Take a training course.

Sign up for a conference.

Go back to school. Get your MBA.

Make sure you receive certification in skills such as inbound marketing, content marketing, and email marketing from companies like HubSpot and their Certification Academy Program.

Get certified in Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

You may find you know more than you think you do.

You can also add these skills and certifications to your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Stay up-to-date with the latest news and information by subscribing to SmartBrief email newsletters.

PR proImage Source: SmartBrief.com

SmartBrief has more than 200 niche email newsletters on topics such as business, leadership, enterprise IT, careers, social business, marketing, digital, sales, and business travel.

Their editors cull through more than 10,000 major media outlets and blogs to find the freshest and most relevant information (in nice executive summary format). So you don’t have to find the news, the news finds you.

PR Pro Tip #3: Become a Better Writer

Practice being a “headline communicator” by learning how to hook your audience with your first five words.

Use a free tool such as CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to analyze the strength of your headlines.

PR proImage Source: CoSchedule.com

Find creative ways to flex your writing muscle.

Contribute a guest blog post to an industry or business publication.

Start your own blog on WordPress.com or write for your company’s blog.

And remember this fact, the best writers are the best readers.

PR Pro Tip #4: 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.

Do your best to master both offline and online relationship building.

Keep in mind that it is better to build relationships face-to-face than by phone or computer.

Find and join a local Meetup group on a topic you care about, or one to help you in your career

PR Pro Tip #5: Learn How to Manage “Yes, and” 

This is a twist on managing the “no.”

Most of us often say “no” to maintain our sanity and keep us energized.

By saying “no” to some things, we can best use our precious time and get things done.

However, be open to the “yes and” … it is an approach with less ego, more openness, and more possibility.

And it starts by better managing the expectations of others.

Overcommunicate, anticipate potential problems and start thinking about practical solutions.

Understand the biases of others and how they think.

Find out how to get around people who slow you down at work.

Set the scope of work and discuss desirable outcomes.

Learn how to manage scope creep and prevent it.

Make sure you always under-promise and over-deliver.

Don’t over-promise and under-deliver.

This is a sure way to destroy your personal brand.

PR Pro Tip #6: Prioritize Better

When you feel overwhelmed by multiple large projects, step back and remember what is most important to accomplish today.

Learn how to stay focused when you are assigned multiple projects at once.

Create a to-do list at the end of every day.

This way, when you come into work the next morning you will already know what you need to do first.

And remember this, how you end your day at work is just as critical as how you begin your day at work.

PR Pro Tip #7: Be More Resourceful

Resourcefulness is a mindset.

It turns you into a scrappy, savvy and self-assured PR pro.

For example, if you can’t reach a journalist or blogger over the phone or by email, search for them on Twitter and send them a direct message.

Before you do this, learn the do’s and don’ts of connecting with journalists on social media first.

Find creative ways to pitch beyond the standard news release.

Coming up with ideas is easy, but selling them to strangers is hard.

Seek out the stories journalists are working on by using services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) or JustReachOut.

By being resourceful and engaging journalists the right way on social media, you will become a source that journalists will contact in the future.

PR Pro Tip #8: Take Advantage of Social Media

More journalists are using social media to find story ideas and sources.

Learn how journalists really use social media and how the most successful journalists use it as a resource.

Use websites and tools such as Muckrack, Prowly, and Coverage Book to find out who is online, how to contact them, create brand newsrooms, send out data-driven pitches, and make media coverage reports faster.

PR Pro Tip #9: Network Smarter, Not Harder

Be a giver, not a taker when you are networking. Be helpful.

View networking events as an opportunity to connect people, make introductions and become the go-to person and information concierge.

Focus on quality over quantity.

When you are speaking to someone, give them your complete attention and interest.

Read the room. People who are willing to make conversation have an open stance, open shoulders or relaxed hands.

Join professional marketing and public relations associations such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)American Marketing Association (AMA), or International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

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 be helpful in finding a future one.

PR Pro Tip #10: Use Free Tools

You need a tool to help you manage where strategy meets execution.

You will need tools to help you manage, track and monitor your clients or your own brand’s efforts.

There are many PR tools which can help you deliver tremendous value to your brand or client – without spending a dime.

Bringing it All Together

By following these tips, you will do your job better, grow your career, embrace new tools and learn new ways of doing things, and develop your skills.

The public relations field is constantly changing, but the fundamentals have not changed.

Do your homework.

Become a better writer by reading more.

Develop deeper relationships.

Prioritize better.

Be resourceful and network smarter not harder.

Try your best not to always say “no,” but instead “yes, and” and be flexible.

Take advantage of social media and the tools available today.

What tips would you add to this list? Please share in the comments below.

The 30-Day Communications Challenge begins on January 3.  Are you subscribed?

About Matthew Royse


Matthew Royse is the director of marketing communications for Forsythe Technology. Forsythe, a Sirius company, is a leading enterprise IT company. He has more than 15 years of experience in marketing and communications working in many industries, including financial services, technology, media, and entertainment. Matthew teaches social media and digital marketing classes at Duke University. Learn more about him at his blog, Knowledge Enthusiast and follow him on Twitter.

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • ginidietrich

    @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!

  • 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.

  • @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!

  • @rachaelseda Any time!

  • 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!

  • 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

    @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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 🙂

  • 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 🙂

  • @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 @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.

  • ginidietrich

    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!

  • ginidietrich

    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!

  • ginidietrich

    @DChatterton Do you know my good friend martinwaxman ??

  • ginidietrich

    @DChatterton Do you know my good friend martinwaxman ??

  • ginidietrich

    @JennaLanger Northwestern has an integrated marketing communication degree (master’s of science) at Medill. You could consider something like that. cc: @mattroyse @shonali

  • ginidietrich

    @JennaLanger Northwestern has an integrated marketing communication degree (master’s of science) at Medill. You could consider something like that. cc: @mattroyse @shonali

  • ginidietrich

    @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! 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    @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! 🙂

  • @GiniDietrich cool, thanks for the tip! Trying to get me to come out to Chicago, eh? Hope @jkretch doesn’t see this… 😉

  • @GiniDietrich cool, thanks for the tip! Trying to get me to come out to Chicago, eh? Hope @jkretch doesn’t see this… 😉

  • ginidietrich

    @JennaLanger @jkretch You work for a tech company. You can do that anywhere!

  • ginidietrich

    @JennaLanger @jkretch You work for a tech company. You can do that anywhere!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • mattroyse

    @dgaschen Thank you for your thoughts. Great addition to the list.

  • mattroyse

    @dgaschen Thank you for your thoughts. Great addition to the list.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • DChatterton

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

  • DChatterton

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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

    @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

    @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

    @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

    @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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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!

  • 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!

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  • 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!

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  • sophieanderson30

    This tips are something that every PR should look to. social media for hospitals

  • sophieanderson30

    This tips are something that every PR should look to.
    -social media for hospitals
    http://impyre.com

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  • Debbie Johnson

    This is a great post and I’m sharing it with some professors I know so they can pass it along to their students.

    I’m just stunned that tip 1 keeps showing up. I was going to ask if people are really pitching blind without doing any research, but they obviously are or we wouldn’t keep seeing this suggestion in these kinds of posts.

    Every PR professional should spend time in a newsroom to learn how it works. I’m fortunate to have started out as a journalist. It’s definitely laid the foundation for my PR career.

    • Matthew Royse

      Thanks, Debbie, for your kind words. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed the article. Yes, PR pros are still not doing their homework when they pitch. I agree that PR pros should spend time in a newsroom. Like you, I was lucky enough to work for a media company and it helped my career like it did for you. Thanks again for your comment. Happy New Year!

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