PR is a tricky profession. You have to have a plan, know how to execute it and be ready for any eventuality that comes along. I have over 10 years of experience in PR (ugh…that hurt) with multiple industry experience. While you can always be prepared for any eventuality, you can still get hurt…just like in life.
Recently (well in February), I broke my arm…my right arm…my dominate arm. Needless to say, it sucked big time. I broke my arm in such a precarious location that it was misdiagnosed the first time. It also sucked (pardon my language) that it was at the very tip-top of my humorous bone (near the shoulder). What that means is that it couldn’t be put in a cast…just a sling. It was literally like having one arm tied behind my back. Only, it was more like having it sewn to my stomach.
Everything changed for about 3 months. Any way I used to do things had to change. I learned how to sign my name with my left hand. I learned how to type with one hand. I definitely utilized dictation more on my iPhone. Don’t get me wrong…there were still a lot of things I couldn’t do. I couldn’t drive my manual transmission car. I wasn’t allowed to walk my dog (for safety purposes obviously) and I honestly couldn’t really cook for myself – no chopping veggies, sautéing or baking a big meal…all of which requires two arms.
Fortunately, I was still able to adapt to this eventuality that I never saw coming. I hated it…but I adapted. And I realized it could have been much worse.
PR is somewhat similar to having one arm tied behind your back (or sewn to your stomach). Just when you get comfortable with how things work, something happens. You then have to figure out how to do everything you know in a different way. I won’t go as far to say, “It makes you stronger in the end.” But I will say that shit happens, and if you figure it out, you won.
I have been doing PR for 16 years. She has been alive for five. And yet she is smarter about PR as a pre-schooler than many professionals. Life lessons may be learned in Kindergarten, but PR lessons are taught on the playground.
(For the purposes of this post, and anonymity for a minor, I will call the Little PR Pro “LPP”)
1. Know How To Sell The Story.
One day LPP was telling me a story about a toy she wanted, which I was only half listening to. Then she switched to tell me how sad she was that her friend at school cried that day and how bad she felt about it. I became more engaged and asked why she cried, impressed by the show of empathy. She said her friend was sad for her because she did not have the same toy as everyone else. Sly move, but she got me to listen, and THAT is what PR professionals need to do.
Forget mass press releases and pitch! Find the angle that touches the reporter. Look them up on Facebook, find out their interests, read their blog, past articles. Know who you are talking to so you know how to sell the story.
2. The Early Bird Gets The Worm.
It is May. Christmas is in December. Her birthday is in March. But LPP already has the list of gifts she knows she wants. She updates the list every time she sees something new she likes and makes sure to let us know that it has been updated.
This is the same pro-active outreach that PR professionals should focus on. If you are looking for a hit in a holiday gift guide, pitch in September instead of November. Lead times are getting longer due to the saturation of information and material. If you have a story that is perfect for Back-To-School, pitch it today. This also helps to ensure you have a hand in the growth of the story, which leads to more features and less blurbs and quick mentions.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Say No.
Last week I went to pick up LPP from school. She walked down the hallway with four other students. When they got to where they had to split up, she hugged three of the four friends. When the other child went to hug her she replied, “No thank you, you did not make me feel happy today.” As simple as that. And the friend fully accepted it as fact, with no hard feelings.
As an adult, we often have guilt behind saying no. And as a professional, typically being paid by a client to say “yes”, saying no can be the hardest thing to do. But we have turned down clients, fired clients (not often, but it has happened), and said the words, “Sorry, but no, that is not press release material” more times than I can count. Once you can remove the emotion from a “no” your business life changes – for the better.
What have you learned about PR, or about YOUR business, from an unexpected source?