public relations professional development It’s summer, summer, summer tiiiiiimmmmme.

And in the communications world, that means things often slow down a bit.

Clients and team members are on vacations. Reporters take things down a tempo. And across the board, people are less focused, slower to move on things, and either out of the office physically or mentally.

Which means it’s an absolutely fantastic time for some public relations professional development.

But the catch is: you have to plan it. Otherwise, summer will be gone and you won’t have used the time or opportunity effectively.

During the next two weeks, we are going to go through some fun and useful public relations professional development activities perfect for summertime.

Some will be aligned with what you traditionally think of as public relations professional development and some will be a bit out of the norm (but equally as useful).

Today we focus on reading and writing.

Read through this list and see what resonates most with you.

You want to pick activities which align with your goals but are also enjoyable (or otherwise you’ll ditch it and go out and run through sprinklers or lay by the pool).

PR Professional Development Task: Read ALL the Things

While some things change, some things stay the same. And reading is one of those.

Reading was important when you were in elementary school and it’s still important now as a public relations professional development activity.

There are many reasons reading is important:

…I could go on.

So what should you read? ALLLLL THE THINGS.

PR Pros Should Read Fiction

We talk all the time here about how important it is for PR pros to read fiction.

And in case you haven’t heard it previously: it’s important to read fiction.

We say it.

Stephen King says it.

Neil Gaiman says it.

And between us, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman do you really need anyone else?

Ok, fine… a lot of scientists and brain researchers say it as well.

Here’s what they say.

At a loss for what to read, we have a great thread from a few months ago in our community about favorite books. Find some great inspiration there.

And if you search back in our Spin Sucks archives you’ll find several summer reading lists (and maybe if you all are nice, Gini Dietrich will do another one soon). So stock up and start reading.

Read Industry and Business Stuff, Too!

Don’t get me wrong, industry and business specific content are useful too. And there is a TON of great content out there.

Have you read every Spin Sucks blog post? If not start there….OK, OK, OK, there are other great blogs, too.

But if you could pick only a few articles from us I’d start with:

The Content Creation Series

Content Creation Series: Measure Your Results

The Blog Checklist Series

Blog Checklist: Five Ways to Promote Your Content

How to Create Lead Magnets

Use Lead Magnets to Generate Qualified Leads

PR Metrics

15 Key PR Metrics to Measure in a PESO Model Program

Why Communicators Must Embrace the PESO Model

PR Pros Must Embrace the PESO Model

And that’s not even getting into the business books.

Set Public Relations Professional Development Reading Goals

Do you feel overwhelmed?


Otherwise, you won’t do anything.

Decide how much you want to read this summer and set a goal for both fiction and non-fiction.

There’s no right or wrong here. Decide what works for you.

Oh, and don’t forget about Audible. I’m an Audible addict and it’s how I do the majority of my fiction reading.

I “read” while walking, driving, gardening, waiting in lines—wherever and whenever.

Public Relations Professional Development: Write it Out

Soon after I first joined the Spin Sucks team I asked Gini what she suggested I do to become a better writer.

She said, very simply: Write.

And she was right.

I’m still not a great writer. Or even a good writer. I’m an average writer who works really hard to improve.

But I’m better than I was four years ago, or even a year ago.

I know it’s because I read and write more consistently. I also have the luxury of a consistent audience (that’s you all, HI). From whom I receive constant feedback, both direct and indirect, which helps me become better.

Summer is an amazing time to write more. It’s quieter and you’ll have more uninterrupted time to work on your craft!

So where do you start?

Write for Business

After you read Gini’s content series (outlined above) or even better The Communicator’s Playbook, you should have built your content map and can start writing.

So write, write, write. Set a goal that you are going to write a certain number of articles each week and do it. Don’t get distracted, just do it.

Create a library of articles and work through the topics on your content map.

You can start pitching content and publishing on your site and others, or you can wait and just be ready with content when the time is right.

Either way, you’ll become a better writer and be ready with content to help you drive leads, improve SEO, and grow.  

Write for Fun

How often do you write for fun? Or just non-work related stuff?

If you are me…it’s almost never. And that makes me sad. Plus it doesn’t do my professional writing any justice.

Writing fiction or just pieces that are different than your norm will help you be a better writer (just like reading will). And summer is a great time to start doing that.

I’ve had a writing project in the back of my mind for a while now and this weekend I finally bought a URL for it and am going to force myself to start it this summer.

Will you join me so we can keep each other accountable?

Make sure you pick something to write you enjoy and has some sort of purpose (even if that purpose is just your fulfillment).

That will make it a lot easier to stick to the habit of it when you are tired or have spent all week already writing in a professional context.

Write Poetry

I’m putting this in a different segment because it’s often forgotten, even when we write for fun. But I think it’s really valuable.

We all have a certain writing style we tend to stick to consistently. We may vary this a bit, but it’s really challenging to really break free from it.

If you read my blog posts often you can clearly see my style. And you see it wherever I write: Articles, social, even emails.

I might tone it down or rev it up based on the platform, but it’s still there….

Now that’s not a bad thing, but flexing my writing style is important to improve my writing.

I’ve found poetry is the best way to do that. 

Start Your Public Relations Professional Development Engines

Ok, you have this week to figure out your plan and set goals for reading and writing this summer. Post your goals below or in the  Spin Sucks Community, so we can keep each other accountable.

Next week we will discuss public relations professional development activities that involve doing and creating.

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

View all posts by Laura Petrolino