12 Ways to Boost Your PR Professionalism – Part 2

31 08 2011

(Continued from previous post. See link at bottom for Part 1.)

7.  Be a team player

  • Two, three or four heads are better than one; other’s experiences can enrich your approach
  • Get your teammates involved early and keep them informed and engaged
  • Clients appreciate having available someone who knows the score when you’re not available or accessible
  • Bounce ideas off of each other. Take teammates’ wildest ideas and enhance, adapt or shape them into something viable
  • Utilize all the brainpower, insight and experience within your firm or department – it provides better solutions and helps avoid unintended consequences
  • Don’t shoot from the hip – study the situation and consult your colleagues before proposing action or counseling

8.  Be a lean, mean PR machine

  • Show genuine enthusiasm, interest and energy
  • Be slightly early for meetings, and be prepared to the max
  • Every effort should be your best. If you need more time because you’re not satisfied that it’s your best, say so
  • Dress, act and communicate the part professionally – the client feels they’re paying BIG bucks for you
  • Be responsive, humble and thoughtful. Sloth, arrogance and thoughtlessness are three things that irritate clients the most
  • Under-promise and over-deliver
  • Go the extra mile; when in doubt, think what you would want if YOU were the client, then do it
  • When you’re with the client, give the client your FULL attention (ignore your mobile device!), and take notes to demonstrate your interest

9. Keep improving your writing

  • Great writing is still the heart and soul of our business
  • All client communications – including emails and text messages – should be carefully crafted, double-checked and proofed by someone else, if possible, before sending
  •  Five or six revisions are NOT too many, especially if there’s a chance your document will be seen by your client’s boss or the outside world (and almost everything you do will)
  • Read all the novels, blogs, out-of-town newspapers, speeches and newsletters you can, to observe different styles, techniques and terms
  • Make and accept edits in the spirit of improvement, not egotism – it’s nothing personal
  • Always remember who you are writing for, in terms of the client and his/her customer

10. If something is going wrong, get help

  • Almost anything can be fixed if caught in time
  • Don’t try to go it alone to save face; your boss and his boss have made mistakes, too
  • If there’s a problem with the client or the agency, confront it blamelessly in the spirit of continuous improvement, assuming that everyone involved is competent and trying their best
  • If there’s a personality conflict with your client or account team, try to talk it out early. Most times they arise out of misunderstandings
  • When your personal life needs attention, tell your boss and take care of it now, so you can get back to focusing on the client with full attention
  • Don’t keep account issues bottled up or try to hide account problems. They’ll just get worse

11. Always keep in touch

  • Use email, voice mail, mobile calling, texts, etc. to stay in touch with your client and your teammates
  • If you’re going to be out for an extended period, let your teammates and your clients know, offer alternate ways to reach you, and let the client know (by name and contact info) who’ll be backing you up in your absence
  • When out, check in when you can, and delegate if you need to, in order to keep things moving
  • Sometimes the client uses the late-in-the-day or after-hours call just to transfer stress so they can stop worrying, not because the matter is time-sensitive, so be there for that call

12. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

  • We can learn from mistakes. Just don’t keep making the SAME mistake
  • Weigh the situation, get insight, make your decision and walk the plank boldly
  • If you goof up, don’t dwell on it. Learn from it and move on, knowing you’re a little smarter now
  • If you don’t know something, don’t try to fake it. Ask questions. The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask
  • Don’t shut others out, especially if you’re SURE you’re right. Your teammates may have made the same mistake and learned from it, and you can benefit from their learning, if you’re open to it
  • Have fun – the pay is the same whether you have fun or not, so you might as well have fun. It will enhance the quality of your work and your life!

12 Ways to Boost Your PR Professionalism – Part 1

24 08 2011

When we bring a new staffer into our PR firm, we spend a great deal of time teaching them our approach. One of more recent hires thought part of our orientation would be valuable to others who are new to PR agency or corporate PR roles.

While we first shared these tips with the outside world in a presentation to the Detroit PRSA Chapter about 20 years ago, with a little updating to account for technology advances, the tenets still hold true today.

Here is the first installment of our top 12 tips to boost your PR professionalism:

1.       Work for the client/customer

  • The client is your real employer
  • At PR firms, the client is THE ONLY source of income
  • Zen it – “be” the client; put yourself in the client’s shoes
  • Big and small clients should receive the same caliber of service
  • Remember that sometimes the media are your customers, too
  • The client is king, but they can be wrong so don’t be afraid to ask the question if you think they are wrong

 2.       Know your client’s or company’s business

  • Products/services and what differentiates them
  • Key executives and organizational structure
  • Customers/prospects/competitors/suppliers
  • Mission/vision/guiding principles/priorities/key performance indicators
  • Terminology/vernacular/jargon
  • Journalist/bloggers/analysts who follow (or should follow) them
  • Relevant associations/consortia/trade groups

 3.       Know your client’s sensitivities

  • PR may not be their first priority
  • Keep budget on-track and budget status transparent
  • Know your supporters and detractors at the company
  • Make your invoices easy for the client to understand, approve and pay
  • Understand the client’s executive hierarchy, informal power structure and communication channels, including the grapevine
  • Take note of and eliminate even the smallest of annoyances in the relationship with the client contacts
  • Learn the client’s personal style, preferences and channels in communicating, working

 4.       Get involved in your client’s industry

  • Read the key industry trade journals regularly
  • Attend trade shows, conferences, seminars, etc. to gather info first-hand
  • Visit the client’s facilities and their customers to gain insight and understanding
  • Understand the key industry issues, trends and drivers, and where your client stands on them
  • Identify potential opportunities or problems early
  • Ask big picture questions and use the answers to improve your service

5.       Be pro-active in keeping the client informed

  • Initiate communication, don’t just respond/react
  • Remember that when clients hear nothing from you, they assume you are doing nothing
  • Send relevant clips, stories, statistics and suggestions – to remind the client that you’re ALWAYS working for them
  • Present new ideas and approaches, even for the most mundane tasks; take nothing for granted
  • Don’t bury the client in useless information or problems, offer clarity and solutions
  • Keep things organized and moving, with great agendas, call reports, activity reports, counseling memos and mini-programs

 6.       Always have a plan

  • It gives you direction – The plan is a map that will help you and others moving together toward your goals
  • It empowers you to be pro-active rather than reactive
  • Get the client’s buy-in to the plan by allowing them to participate in its development
  • Can be as simple as: Where are we now? Where do we want to be? How do we get there?
  • Have a backup plan B in your pocket, in case your first plan doesn’t work out or the situation changes

(Tips 7-12 will come in the next post.)

Newbies’ B2B Guide to Google+

16 08 2011

Everyone is talking about Google+ … but what does it offer business-to-business communicators and marketers? In a word: POTENTIAL.

Google+ is a collection of social networking services we already use, all in one place and according to Google, made even better.

It allows you to link with friends, businesses, chat, organize your contacts, share your interests and much more. While currently only open to personal profiles, Google+ will include highly anticipated business profiles later this year. 

So, as a business professional, it’s worth catching the Google+ train now. Here are some of the key features:  

Stream: The easiest way to describe the Google+ Stream is to compare it to the Facebook News Feed but it’s so much more. You can view streams from specific Circles you belong to or all of them at once.

Circles: An easy way to sort your friends and connections. You are able to create as many Circles as you’d like and choose its name. When posting something, you are able to choose what Circles see that information. It could be all, just a few Circles, or even just one person. When you add someone to your circle, they don’t know what the circle is named or who else is in it. You don’t have to have permission to put someone in a Circle and no one has to in order to add you to one of their Circles.

 Profile & Posts: You have a lot of control over your posts. You are able to choose which Circles can see the information, whether a post can be re-shared and even edit or delete a post. Photos, videos and links can be shared in your posts easily by just dragging links directly to the ‘Share what’s new…’ box.

+1 Button: Similar purpose to Facebook’s “Like” button, +1 also helps make search results more relevant and is something Google would like to enhance in the future. You may have already noticed this feature incorporated to show up next to Google’s search results.

Hangouts: This is a video chat and can be utilized with multiple users, up to 10. When you are “hanging out” users in your Circles are able to see it in their streams and join you. There are controls so everyone or only certain Circles can see you in a Hangout or even just one person. Those in the Hangout can also share or watch YouTube videos simultaneously.

Sparks: This feature allows users to search topics and find relevant articles, videos and photos right on Google+ to keep up to date with your interests and share with your Circles. You are able to “pin” your favorite Spark topics for quick searches later on.  

Photos & Instant Upload: The photo capabilities developed on Google+ are one of its coolest aspects. Google+ has photo albums you are able to create to share photos with Circles of your choice. You can easily create new albums and upload photos by clicking “Upload New Photos,” dragging and dropping photos into your browser. Additional photo features allow you to edit your photos in Google+, tag yourself, and friends, but tags but be approved by those being tagged before it appears on Google+.

Taking the time to upload your photos from your phone can sometimes be a pain. Google+ has an option for photos and videos from your phone to be instantly uploaded as you take them to a private album for you to share whenever you’d like.

Huddle: Found in the Google+ phone app, a Huddle allows you to text multiple people at once. It becomes a group chat right on your phone.

Visit https://plus.google.com/up/start/?continue=https://plus.google.com/&type=st&gpcaz=78b254d to check it out.

What’s your take on Google+ as a business-to-business tool? Will you use it?

Top 10 Tips for Your Online Newsroom

9 08 2011
It goes without saying that almost every organization these days has a website. It also goes without saying that your site’s newsroom is one of the most, if not the most, visited area for people looking to find information, especially journalists.The newsroom acts as the main portal for information about your product or service and its importance cannot be overemphasized. A poorly managed or updated newsroom can send visitors clicking in the other direction and never looking back. The fact is: If you don’t provide the information they’re looking for, they’ll go somewhere else.

So what makes a great online newsroom that best serves potential customers and targeted journalists? Here’s our top 10:

1. Keep it Fresh- Your newsroom should be kept current and be constantly updated with the latest news, announcements, important dates, photos, events, etc. If your newsroom looks abandoned, why would anyone want to visit it?

2. Post PR Contact Info – Nothing is more frustrating for a journalist than having to spend a lot of time hunting down the right contact, especially for media who are on tight deadlines. Make it easy for them. It’s amazing how many corporate websites do NOT provide media contact names, phone numbers and direct email addresses.

3. Archive the Past - Visitors want the option to check out past news. You should provide a press release archive in text format, that’s categorized by date and subject matter to make research easy.

4. Share History – Include the history of your company and a timeline of important milestones as a way for visitors to get to know you better and tap into your past experience.

5. Don’t Just Tell, Show – In today’s world, using visuals to tell a story and support your marketing is part of the gig. Without visuals, you’ll fall behind the pack. Offer high-res, downloadable photos and video content on products, events, executive interviews and more. Remember, everyone reads pictures!

6. Detail Your Products – Offer product diagrams, instruction manuals, merchant availability, user testimonials, pricing and links to product reviews.

7. Promote Your People – To know your people is to know your company. Be sure to ‘give a face’ to it all by providing background and photos of your top executives and customer-facing personnel.

8. Dollars & Sense – More often than not, journalists are going to inquire about financial information, so you might as well save them, and yourself, some time and post financial data that is approved for the public eye.

9. I Need Stats, Stat – Be sure to provide useful statistics on your company, product or service – usage, averages, growth rates, platforms, etc. People, especially journalists, crave numerical data to add veracity to their stories.

10. Easy on the Eye – Your newsroom should look like it belongs to the rest of your website. Use an easy-to-navigate, uncluttered layout that gives an aura of action and timeliness.

Bonus tip - Remember to think about what you like when you visit other newsrooms. What features do you find most helpful? What frustrates you? How your site compare to others? Think about your own preferences, verify them with a few of your target media and then apply them to your company’s site … continually. It’s a never-ending process.


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