10 New Year's resolutions for PR pros
With the advent of 2014, it’s important to look back at 2013 and to evaluate yourself, whether in a personal way or with a business outlook. What were your successes? In what areas did you grow? Note those areas and celebrate them.
As a PR professional, it’s also important to look back on areas of weakness, campaigns that may have been a struggle and initiatives that could have led to more growth than they did. In taking the time to review your difficulties, you’ll be better equipped to make 2014 a year of success.
Check out the following list of New Year’s resolutions for PR professionals to consider as 2014 begins.
1. Be a little less robotic. Pitching is an essential part of business for those involved in PR. However, if your pitch leaves too much to be desired, it will be ignored, trashed and forgotten; not at all the result you’re looking for! This doesn’t mean a template can’t work, but if you sound like a robot, you’re in trouble. To write a template that actually works, demonstrate value in the subject line, add a little excitement, bold points of particular interest and think about how your target will feel upon reception.
2. Use social media to really connect. Email, in many ways, is a thing of the past. Sure, you’ll get responses, but they might not be on your time. Sometimes they won’t come at all. Instead, if you’re looking to reach a particular target, social media is probably the way to go. Twitter allows unprecedented access to executives, celebrities and journalists without having to go through a gatekeeper. This has been demonstrated numerous times over the past year. To up your Twitter game, schedule posts in advance and take the time to tweet regularly, participate in chats, follow trends and reach out personally to the professionals that you’re trying to pitch.
3. Revamp your view of subject lines. When pitching through email, a subject line can make or break your message. If it sounds like spam, it will be trashed. If it’s boring, it will be ignored. It’s a fine line and walking it correctly is critical. A subject line should be viewed like a news headline; it should be designed to draw attention by giving away just the right amount of information. Whether it’s just to connect, share an idea or to sell a product, mention a benefit and demonstrate value. Whether you are promoting therapy pools or toaster ovens, mentioning a benefit and demonstrating its value is always important.
4. Do your research. One clear cut benefit of the Internet is the ability to find the information you’re looking for on any subject, at any time. Think of it as a less creepy version of stalking. To reach a specific audience with your pitch, you should know everything about them. Take the time to study their social media presences, learn what makes them tick and think about the most effective communication method based on the interests that you discover.
5. Pick up the phone now and then. It’s easy to depend completely upon online connections and communications. However, they also limit you. If you’re wondering the status of a pitch, pick up the phone and call your target. Ask about the pitch and also if your target has any questions. You’ll be gaining credibility by taking this step. Just don’t be annoying.
6. Network. In the same way that social networking and online communication has halted phone calls, it’s also put a damper on real-time networking. This doesn’t mean that networking is any less important. To be a successful PR professional, you need to have the right set of people to contact at the right time. Entire campaigns could depend upon this ability. To grow your contact list, you must take networking seriously. Look for local events, get out there and network.
7. Rethink the way you write. Writing is an art, a talent that many have started to overlook with the onset of 140-character or less communications. This doesn’t mean it’s any less important. If you’re looking to succeed in 2014, you must evaluate your writing skills and take the time to improve where possible. A poorly written pitch can ruin your credibility.
8. Know what’s happening around you. A successful PR professional knows how to use current events to their advantage. They know that strategic responses can make or break certain situations and have the acumen to determine when the best time to step in happens to be. However, for this to happen, you’ve got to know what’s happening in the world around you. Follow what’s trending on Twitter, subscribe to online news outlets (editor's note: the Muck Rack Daily is a great place to start!) and start your day by checking out a national news site. If you want to be part of the conversation, you first must understand where it’s heading.
9. Understand SEO. It’s that simple. Understanding search engine optimization and how it applies to your client is essential for success in 2014. Relevant and authoritative content that adds value is more important than ever. Learn how SEO could work to your advantage and work within that methodology for the best results.
10. Continually look for ways to improve. A New Year doesn’t mean a single set of resolutions and tunnel vision. The field of public relations is changing on a daily basis; make sure you keep up. Take the time to evaluate your strategy on a regular basis and make a consistent effort to improve. To stay at the top of your game, evaluation is critical.
2014 can be your best year yet, or it can be a continuation of your old habits. To succeed this year, taking an honest look at your current strategies and building new ones must take precedence. Celebrate 2013’s wins and write a new success story for 2014.
Do you have your own resolutions for the New Year? Share in the comments below!
Adrienne Erin is an outreach specialist at WebpageFX who is always looking for ways to improve her PR game. She has written for Content Marketing Institute, Search Engine People, and SiteProNews. Catch up with her on Twitter to see more of her work, connect on Google+ or check out her blog, Pongra.
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