5 Tips For PR Success

Yesterday I turned 48 and the reality hit me that over half of my life has been spent in public relations. While age has never been relevant to me, the passage of time certainly is. It gave me repose to consider the many events and activities I’ve been involved in as well as the trying times. What it also did was make me realize that while the profession has changed as the years have passed, and the tactics and strategies altered by the changing technology, the tenants of a good communications program remain constant. That was the focus then and it must remain now.

For those venturing into the public relations field I offer these five essential tips for building a successful public relations career:
1. It’s about being a communicator – if you are uncomfortable communicating with others, whether it be over the phone, in written word or in public settings, then this is not the profession for you. Learn how to listen to others, especially your clients or superiors. They will value your input but don’t want to be force fed. You gain greater respect if you develop a program for them which reflect their needs and concerns. Keeping the lines of communication open with them at all times allows for a give-and-take process that can allow you to become an integral part of your client’s business or your internal team. But first, open your ears and listen!

2. Relationships matter – you are nowhere in this industry if you do not work on creating and maintaining relationships with key media, colleagues and clients. The only way you maintain this is to treat everyone fair and with respect. You may not always agree with everything a reporter writes about your company or client but if you have a good relationship with that reporter, you can better communicate your displeasure. It should not come down to a screaming match. You also never want to burn bridges. You never know when that difficult boss or client can become an ally in the future. This industry is very small and if you say something negative or in this age, tweet or blog about it, be sure that it will get back to that individual.

3. Be responsible – the quickest way to burn a bridge is to blame others for something you were responsible. If you make a mistake, and we all do, own up to it. Whether it’s with an internal staff or as part of an account team, there needs to be accountability. If a process is in place and there is a proper outline for each team member’s roles and responsibilities, there is no way for someone to blame others. Be honest with those around you and with your clients. They will respect you more.

4. Go the extra mile – Too often, especially on the agency side, the scope of work negotiated with a client for an account is the gospel and nothing beyond that is offered up. Sure, that is important from a business perspective in not overstaffing and over-servicing a client program. However, public relations professionals that stand out are those that are indeed willing to go the extra mile for a client or to get the job done.

5. Make the most of your network – It is vital for a public relations communicator to establish and build upon their network of contacts throughout their career. While I’m still dealing with media representatives and client contacts that I first came into contact with back in the 1980’s, I’ve also met and continue to network with a myriad of new contacts, many of whom I’ve never met in person but communicate with online. These contacts are now referring business to iMedia Public Relations. Start networking from your inception into this industry, but don’t make it about you. Share information, use groups and contacts as learning tools and always provide value.

Tom Cosentino

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