Top 10 Bits of PR Advice

24 05 2011

This time of year, when high school and college students are graduating, the floodgates of advice seem to open up. Graduates receive unsolicited, and often unwanted, advice from their relatives, from their neighbors, from their parents, from their friends and even from strangers.

Over the years, I’ve received a lot of advice. Some good.  Some bad. I’ve also given a lot of advice. (Ditto.)

Advice seems to rise from experience. Experience comes from mistakes. And Lord knows, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in 30 years, so I have LOTS of experience … and hence, advice to offer.

Here are 10 of my favorite bits of PR-related advice:

1)      In PR (and in life), attitude makes ALL the difference. A person with a great attitude and limited skills beats one with great skills and a bad attitude … every time.

2)      Brilliant strategy without flawless execution is like a new Lamborghini without fuel – it looks good but it isn’t going anywhere.

3)      The most important tools in PR are your brain and your heart. Be smart and be passionate.

4)      If you want your media pitch to be received with enthusiasm, be enthusiastic when you research your target and be enthusiastic when you pitch.

5)      Despite all the new tools and technologies, good PR still comes down to relationships and trust. If you build relationships and earn trust, you’ll succeed.

6)      Don’t forget to use a picture (or video) to help tell your story. Everyone “reads” pictures.

7)      The best way to stand out is not to behave brashly or dress flamboyantly. The best way to stand out is to do outstanding work.

8)      It’s important to really care about your work. But it’s also important not to let your work drive you crazy.

9)      Always have a plan. If it doesn’t get written down, get measured and get rewarded, it won’t get done.

10)   Your Mother was right: Honesty really is the best policy. The truth is powerful … and besides, it’s a lot easier to remember than lies!

Here is one final thought about advice, a quote from poet Edna St. Vincent Millay: “I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.”

What’s the best — or worst — PR advice you’ve ever received?

You Might Need a New Intern When …

4 05 2011

It’s summer intern season. Most PR firms and many corporate communication departments have internship programs, which (at the least) allow the company to give back to the profession by providing a deserving student some practical experience, and (at best), help the firm to find and develop new talent.

Over the past 15 years that our PR firm has taken on interns, we’ve probably had 35 or so. Some were some great, some mediocre and a few, despite our best attempts at screening, were simply awful.

In reminiscing about some of our more memorable interns and discussing the topic with some of our PR colleagues, we came up with this list of instances that might signal it’s time to get a new intern.

If you’re a professional who hires interns, you have probably witnessed some of these situations. If you’re a student starting an internship, you may see this post as instructive as what NOT to do. And no matter who you are, we hope the list brings at least a little smile.

You might need a new intern when:

1) The intern has called in with a different excuse for the past six days he/she was supposed to show up (“My cat is sick,” “Someone stole my car,” “The washing machine overflowed,” “My brother took my car keys with him to Kalamazoo,” etc. )

2) You catch the intern in her/his cubicle using your equipment to play poker online or posting inappropriate photos when she/he was supposed to be drafting a news release

3) You find out your intern has been complaining about the work you’re giving him/her and about the staff on his/her Facebook page

4) You find that the intern took three hours to do the 15-minute errand you sent him/her on – and returned to the office holding several shopping bags from a high-end store at a local upscale mall

5) You find the intern’s resume in the shared printer, and it shows that he/she refers to his/her current internship position as “Special Assistant to the President”

6) Your intern repeatedly fails to follow directions, on everything from how to answer the phone to meeting deadlines and from what to include in the clip report to how to research a media list

7) Your intern ignores the agency’s dress code and wears flip-flops or sneakers for an important meeting with a conservative corporate client

8) You find that your intern has spent most of the day on the phone providing personal relationship counseling to his/her friend rather than doing the rush job you’ve assigned. (“But it was an emergency. My friend’s boyfriend’s sister is having relationship issues again …”)

9) Your intern has his/her parent call you near the end of the internship to beg for a glowing evaluation, after a semester of poor performance, so as not to ruin his/her GPA

10) Your intern asks you to write a letter of recommendation that he/she can provide to his/her parole officer.

What are other signs that you may need a new intern?


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