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.

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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.

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Find creative ways to flex your writing muscle.

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

Start your own blog on 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?

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.

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