Four habits PR pros need to ditch

Oct 17, 2016
Four habits PR pros need to ditch

The public relations profession is booming.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of PR people has more than doubled since 2000. And, as public relations, content marketing and social media converge, there are more opportunities than ever for professionals joining the PR ranks.

But, as we grow in number, PR pros need to make sure to keep their skills sharp. Yes, there are more opportunities for us—but that doesn’t mean it’s time to get lazy.

Here are just a few examples of habits we need to ditch to stay on top of our game.

1. Sloppy writing habits.

There’s truly no excuse for this one. And, it seems to be getting worse. So often, there are errors in our writing that a spellchecker doesn’t catch that would’ve benefitted from a proofreader’s keen eye—or even from an app like Hemingway, if you don’t have access to a human copy editor.

C’mon, fellow PR pros—writing is a cornerstone of all that we do. Don’t phone it in. Typos and errors are unacceptable in this day and age. Even if you’re moving fast, it doesn’t get you off the hook here. Poor writing makes us look unprofessional and your message is lost in the mess.

2. Having an attitude with the media.

Some PR pros seem to feel the media is there to do their bidding. This isn’t the case. Reporters have no obligation to you or to your client. They’re free agents. If they choose to cover a story, that’s great—bend over backward to get them what they need. But, they’re free to say no to your request to run a press release or include your event. And, they certainly aren’t obligated to allow you to review a piece before it’s published.

Your job is to present the information or story idea, and then work with them if they decide to run with it. But, there are no guarantees. So, drop the ‘tude.

3. Chasing the shiny object. 

While it’s great to be aware of new tools and apps, we don’t have to adopt each and every one that’s released. We can find ourselves distracted—and overwhelmed—that way.

Better to try out a new tool once you’ve heard about from a fellow PR pro or read a couple of reviews to see if it’s something that might be useful. (Muck Rack published a piece not long ago on the best productivity apps for PR pros.)  Many successful practitioners find the handful of apps most helpful to them and focus on those—and only those.

4. Using social media inappropriately to reach reporters.  

It’s absolutely fine to look up a reporter on Twitter—in fact, many of them now include their email address in their bio for you to send pitches or allow you to send DMs—but, it’s NOT OK to use social media to stalk a reporter, or to get personal information about them that you then use in a “creepy” way to try to get their attention.

Case in point: This retweet came from a real journalist via @SmugJourno:

“Dear PR people, mentioning details about my personal life will not win you points, just creeps me out.”

Moral of the story: Use social media to research and contact reporters, but use it wisely.

Fellow PR pros (and reporters), what bad habits are you seeing that you’d add to this list?

Michelle Messenger Garrett is a public relations consultant, speaker and award-winning writer with more than 20 years of agency, corporate, startup and Silicon Valley experience. She works with clients ranging from small businesses to enterprises such as Adobe and HP, assisting them in crafting and carrying out a PR strategy to help them get the word out, get noticed and increase visibility, prospects and sales.

Photo: Break bad habits via Shutterstock

About the author

Freelance writer. PR consultant. Top 100 #PR influencer. Blogger @PRDaily, @Meltwater, @MuckRack. Social media nerd. Coffeeaholic. #Tech | #B2B | #Smallbiz

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