By Yen Ni Chan, CPRS Member and Student of Public Relations, Marketing and Strategic Communications
University of Winnipeg
Is it difficult for you to figure out how to begin your career when you first start in the public relations industry? You have some excellent ideas, but how do you effectively communicate them and generate positive publicity for the company? What are the dos and don’ts of being a public relations practitioner? As a newcomer to public relations, you must clearly understand the fundamental principles of being a successful PR practitioner.
Here are some do’s and don’ts as a PR professional to help you make your way successfully through the PR industry.
Do focus on your target audience
You must first determine who your target audience is and what message you want to convey before you can successfully launch a public relations campaign. This allows you to conduct PR work clearly and effectively. You are better able to maintain the intended message’s accuracy while ensuring that the intended audience accurately receives it. When arranging an event, it is important to remind yourself from time to time who your target audience is to ensure that the event can attract customers more efficiently.
Do get the latest news in the industry
Keep abreast of pertinent industry news to ensure that your creativity follows the trend and has a firm grasp of what journalists and the general public are most interested in. Additionally, you can use this data to create appropriate public relations strategies. This will help your public relations campaign be more effective.
Do establish good relationships with journalists
The ability to maintain positive relationships with journalists is critical in public relations. Never be afraid to get in touch with the media, and always strive to maintain a cordial and positive working relationship with them. Always keep in mind that dealing with the media and building a reputation takes time and effort, and maintain a humble demeanour at all times in order to develop long-term friendships with journalists and other media professionals. Please regularly update your contact list to avoid losing contact with the media and target customers.
Do record everything you say to the media
In order to effectively communicate with reporters, it is critical to pay close attention to what you are saying. Keep everything on the record to avoid misunderstandings and ensure that the information is delivered correctly. Please exercise caution before disclosing any information you do not want to appear in the media.
Do evaluate the effectiveness of the event
Every time an event is held, it is necessary to conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the event’s overall success. Only in this way can other public relations activities in the future make greater progress. If the campaign lasts for several months or a year, an evaluation should be carried out in the middle of the campaign to measure the feasibility of the campaign and whether there is a need for improvement.
Don’t just rely on a single media
You cannot achieve a successful marketing effect by relying solely on one type of media coverage to achieve it. In addition to cultivating positive relationships with traditional media outlets such as newspapers and magazines, it is important to recognize the growing influence of online media among today’s youth. Instagrammers, bloggers, and YouTubers have significant influence these days, and it is impossible to ignore them.
As a public relations professional today, you should focus your efforts not only on developing relationships with traditional media but also on developing relationships with social media platforms. As a result, it will be easier to attract younger customers.
Don’t send random messages to the public
People despise receiving email blasts. You should avoid spamming the largest number of people and the media, as this creates a negative impression of the company on the media and the public. Spend as much time as possible filtering your target customers to ensure that you only communicate with people and media who are interested in your brand and tailor the content of your messages to provide them with a complete picture of your brand.
Don’t tell a lie
Never tell a lie because it will not only fail to achieve the intended effect of product promotion, but it will also harm the company’s reputation. It takes a long time to establish a positive image for your company; don’t let the company’s previous efforts go to waste because of a lie.
Don’t assume the media will cover you
Even if you have a good working relationship with the media and a fantastic product, this does not guarantee that journalists will write about your company’s product or services in their papers. To get media attention, you must combine several different factors. You should review your PR strategy regularly and improve the details of your strategy in line with the needs of the media and the public. Even if you are unsuccessful in obtaining media coverage, you should maintain communication and good contact with the media as a foundation for future product promotion.
Don’t forget to be courteous.
You should realize that your actions and words as a public relations professional also represent your company’s image, and always be courteous when communicating with members of the media and members of the general public. Avoid being aggressive and causing disruption to reporters or clients. You should communicate with them while providing them with adequate space to reduce their sense of oppression and improve the company’s reputation.
You should know that becoming a successful PR professional does not happen overnight, and building good relationships with people cannot be instantly accomplished. Through the accumulation of experience and continuous progress review, you will be able to make a breakthrough in the PR industry over time.
Five Tools Every PR Professional Should Be Aware Of
By Gloria I. Ndikumana, CPRS Member and Student of Public Relations, Marketing and Strategic Communications
University of Winnipeg (PACE)
Why you should read this post:
- To understand the importance of PR tools
- To learn about the PR tools that will simplify your job
- Because technology is awesome
Public Relations 101
Earning good press and visibility for your brand is the ultimate goal of all the planning and strategy that goes into every PR action you take.
So much work goes into managing your public relations effectively to help your business remain competitive in your industry.
Needing to be 5 steps ahead of trends, breaking news, scandals, disasters and staying on top of your relationships, media lists and d-list blogger guests for events makes the job grueling, exhilarating, and humbling all at once.
To stay on top of your game you will need more than a magnetic and charming personality to maintain the best relationships with journalists, your bosses, and your clients….
You will need some tools to manage, track, and monitor your brand’s PR efforts. I have compiled a list of 5 PR tools you might need, plus a few alternatives for each.
Your Design Tool – Canva
This is my top pick for creating shareable assets for social media. It’s easy to use, it has a ton of free templates, and free stock pictures, and it will give you a professional finish.
Canva is the perfect tool when you don’t have an in-house designer on your team, and you happen to be less design-savvy.
You don’t need to master illustrator or photoshop to create eye-catching media kits and press releases. Canva is a complete tool for anyone who isn’t an experienced designer, but it’s also convenient for more experienced designers.
Other design tools to consider:
- Prezly – press releases
- Infogram – infographics
- Visme – for your infographics, presentations, charts and graphs.
- Pablo – social media posts
Your Media Monitoring Tool – Meltwater
When working in a small city like Winnipeg or with a small brand you might find that subscribing to your local newspapers will prove more valuable than getting an expensive media monitoring tool that would sometimes get you irrelevant publications.
However, bigger brands definitely need a brand management or media monitoring tool. My top pick for this kind of tool is Meltwater. This tool will help you monitor and analyze mentions across multiple online news, social media, print, broadcast, and podcasts.
Meltwater is great at determining tone of the coverage you’re getting, maintaining relationships with journalists and tracking performance analytics.
Other Media monitoring Tools to consider:
- Google Alerts – it’s free!
- Coverage book – keep records of your coverage for your reports
- Brandwatch – Keep track of yours and your competitors’ PR focus
- Critical Mention – Full control over online presence, great for broadcast monitoring
- Mention – Online media monitoring, social media listening, competitive analysis
- Cision – Media Monitoring, Journalist Outreach
Your Content Planning Tool – Buzzsumo
If you’re looking for a tool to help you curate and develop new content, this tool is perfect for you. By looking up a topic on Buzzsumo, you find the most popular content on the internet under this topic.
You can also keep an eye on what your competition is publishing, as well the amount of engagement they’re getting. This tool will always analyze and provide insights to help you create better content.
Buzzsumo will not only help you keep in touch with all the latest trends in your industry, but it will also identify key influencers in your industry, revealing their social following and engagement rates. This knowledge can help you build strategic relationships with these influencers.
Other tools for Content creation & development:
- Quicksearch – spot trends in your industry and find content ideas (it’s free!)
- Ahrefs – Content ideas, keyword research and SEO
- SEMrush – Perfect tool for keyword research and competitor analyses, and blogging (SEO)
Your Social Media Management Tool – Hootsuite
My top choice tool for social media management is Hootsuite. This easy-to-use dashboard hosts a centralized feed of all your brand’s mentions, comments, and tags across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
This tool basically helps you schedule your social media posts. However, considering that each platform has a different audience, always revise your posts accordingly to ensure you’re not posting the same thing across multiple platforms.
Hootsuite also has an advanced listening tool that provides Insights, digging into audience segments and trends, benchmarking your brand’s strength against competitors, and tracking real-time conversations across blogs, forums, and message boards.
Other Social Media Management Tools
- Streams – day-to-day content publishing, and media monitoring
- Buffer – social media publishing, entry-level analytica and monitoring
- Digimind – Holistic social media listening
- TweetDeck – Twitter’s media monitoring dashboard
Your Distribution and Outreach Tool – MailChimp
MailChimp is a user-friendly tool that you can use to send out news releases, emails to members, newsletters – you name it. It always gives all your outgoing correspondences a nice, branded look.
It makes it very easy to create outreach lists based on your audience. It’s true that regardless of your business or the type of industry you operate in, an email list is the most important element of a successful marketing strategy.
With Mailchimp, you will quickly learn how to quickly build a list from scratch. You will also be able to keep track of your progress and learn exactly how many new people join your email list from the automatic welcome emails that are sent out to new subscribers.
Other distribution and PR outreach tools:
- Business wire – press release distribution
- MuckRack – helps you build powerful, targeted media lists
- Anewstip: Media monitoring, PR outreach, and identifying media opportunities
- SourceBottle – PR outreach and identifying media opportunities
- NinjaOutreach – outreach to online leads, bloggers, social media influencers,
Take control of your PR efforts
You may have amazing things to say about your company, but it’s tracking your PR actions, controlling your message, and evaluating its impact once it’s out there that helps you build brand awareness, loyalty, and increase your revenue. Start using some of these tools to boost your PR performance.
Do you have any specific tools you would like to share with other PR professionals? Be sure to let us know through the comments section below.
Five Networking Hacks for PR Professionals
By Abbie Barzaga, CPRS Member and Student of Public Relations, Marketing and Strategic Communications
University of Winnipeg (PACE)
Networking is instrumental for anyone at any point in their career, but even more so for public relations and communications professionals. As these professions rely heavily on relationship building and information sharing, it’s never too early or too late for PR and communications professionals to start networking.
Why is networking important?
Networking exposes you to opportunities you might not find through traditional job search methods. According to Jobvite’s 2019 Job Seeker Nation Survey, 37 per cent of job seekers hear about job openings through professional networks, and nearly 50 per cent hear about them through word-of-mouth recommendations from friends.
Networking can also be the gateway to information about specific companies or industries that are difficult to find elsewhere. Through informational interviews, a job seeker can ask a professional working in an area of interest about their job, their company’s culture, and current industry trends.
While the benefits of networking are clear, it can still be an uncomfortable task for some people. Like with most matters, however, anyone can get better through practice. To help, here are five networking hacks for early PR and communication professionals:
1. Be curious
What comes to mind when you think of networking? For some, an image of a conference hall with fifty to a hundred or more people in formal suits might come up. While this is one form of networking, there are many other ways to network. For example, informational interviews are usually one-on-one meetings over coffee. In the past two years, one-on-one or small group meetings through online video communication tools have become the norm due to the COVID pandemic. It’s essential to try different ways and find which method works best for you.
Once you have decided on your preferred method, remember that all successful networking connections begin with curiosity. So be genuinely curious in your interactions.
When networking, try to find your shared interest points and ask meaningful questions. Then, attentively listen while others are speaking. Once you’ve shown respect for what others have to say, you will have a chance to voice your piece. Be patient and remember that it’s not all about you, but what you can learn from others.
As Bill Nye once said, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”
2. Create genuine connections
One commonly reported problem linked to networking is when an individual directly asks for a significant favour, usually a job interview or referral from someone they have just met. Not only is this typically ineffective, but it can quickly turn an atmosphere awkward and make you appear insincere.
All relationships, including professional connections, require tact and patience. An alternative would be to tell people you’re in the market for a particular position and ask if they know openings that best fit your objectives.
Letting people know about your skillsets and interests is acceptable but try to avoid hard-selling yourself or your company and product. Instead, proceed with the intention of receiving and sharing information—even better if you can tell it through a story. Storytelling, an everyday task for PR and communication professionals, can also be applied at networking events to be more memorable.
3. Remember it’s a two-way connection
Whenever you ask for advice or help from your network, also think about ways you can help your connection. Some easy ways to do so include:
- Engaging with their posts on social media
- Providing compliments and feedback on projects that have impressed you
- Congratulating them on their accomplishments
- Sharing relevant information such as articles or case studies that provide value for them
- Finally, and most importantly, volunteering your time and skills or connecting them with others who have the expertise they are looking for.
4. Come prepared and reflect on what you’ve learned.
While it’s important to be your genuine self during a networking event, it also pays off to come prepared for every meeting. Try to research the attendees before you arrive at a networking event. Find out information such as which companies they work for, what industries they operate in, and their interests. Then, prepare questions or topics that you can discuss during the meeting. This step is even more critical for one-on-one sessions because it can help start and keep the conversation going.
Before parting ways with a new connection, ask if they are willing to stay in contact and inquire about their preferred contact method. After the event, follow up with a personalized thank you message. This time is also the chance to forward any resources you mentioned or promised to send during your conversation.
Finally, keep track of everyone you have met and organize the information you’ve received to help maintain the relationships. While doing this, make sure to also reflect on what you have learned and evaluate how it can help you reach your professional and personal goals.
5. Put effort into maintaining your network
After organizing and identifying your most valuable connections, the next step is to take the time to maintain and grow your relationships. Traditionally, you can request a meeting to catch up on the news, ask for advice, or discuss specific matters. Another way to stay in contact is to occasionally share insightful articles that will be helpful to your connection through email.
One easy method for PR and communications professionals to stay in contact today is through social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Twitter. Genuine interest and engagement will often be appreciated.
So, how frequently should you network?
There are two primary schools of thought regarding this question: strategically choosing when or whom to network with or simply networking as often as possible. Some would argue that networking with as many people as possible broadens your vision. Others believe that strategically choosing whom to network with could help you achieve your professional goals more effectively. Of course, both options have advantages and disadvantages, and the method you choose should depend on your availability and comfort level.
Regardless of how often you choose to network, the most crucial part is to balance your willingness to meet new people with your ability to maintain your current connections.
Looking for the Best Place to Work For as a PR Professional?
Some say the best place in the world for public relations professionals to work is at a non-profit organization. Why? Because, they contend, there is a noble cause driving the organization’s goals that, if it aligns with your own ideals, makes you feel good about working there. Others say the best place for a PR guy or gal is at a big corporation because as long as you love what you do, where you work is less of a concern. For these people, their job is both their craft and their cause. After all, strong corporations have the ability to assist many charitable endeavours, right?
What about working in government? From my perspective, there are some dualities.
Government can be great because of the stability. It is a place to build a strong and steady career for yourself, but it can also be a challenging place for PR professionals who desire a high level of autonomy in their work. Dealing with bureaucracy, chains of approval, and politics is not for everyone. But if you can navigate this, there is always the need for someone with great media relations skills, who is quick-thinking, and able to manage emotions when a crisis appears that affects a large population. Communicating essential information to the people of your city, province or country is itself a noble cause.
My personal opinion is that it does not matter which type of organization you work for as long as you find your cause: the challenge that makes your heart beat faster. One place surely can be more demanding than another, but as long as you are being challenged in your work you have the opportunity to grow and go further in your career.
Some things to think about when choosing where to apply after school, is the need for a cause or something you feel passionately about. Another equally important factor is the benefits you receive (you know… paid vacation, performance bonuses, the prospect of a promotion, and open communication). A third factor that is really REALLY important to me is atmosphere and environment you’re working in. You need to be able to build connections and relationships with your coworkers and managers. When you have great relationships with the people you work with, the challenges of the job often becomes easier to work through. When you utterly care about the people surrounding you, you’ll run the extra mile (or a kilometer) for them.
What it comes down to for me when searching for the best place to work is not the challenges of the job or company itself: it is the people I am going to be working with.
For those of you who were expecting the names of a few great companies to work for, take a look in this PRWeek article.
PR’s role in corporate sustainability
By Lorne Kletke, APR and long-time CPRS member and former CPRS MB board member
October 6, 2015
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and issues of sustainability have been firmly entrenched in mainstream conversation for some time. How has your organization responded, and how has PR played a role?
A growing portion of consumers are basing their decisions on more than price, service and reliability these days. They want to know how a company relates to its suppliers, employees, the environment and community-at-large. They, along with even more engaged interest groups, are concerned about corporate sustainability.
An easy way to picture corporate sustainability is with the concept of a triple bottom line – people, planet and profit. Organizations pursuing the triple bottom line are looking for not only financial returns but also social justice and environmental protection. It follows that if your focus shifts from one bottom line to three, your PR strategy likely needs change as well.
Nonresponsive organizations risk missing out on opportunities and losing customers in the short term. More proactive competitors will be positioning themselves as the preferred choice for customers and stakeholders sensitive to sustainability issues. These competitors will benefit not only from increased sales, fundraising results or whatever you are competing against them for. They will also benefit from the process of engagement, building trust with their stakeholders, and a deep knowledge of the issues and opportunities at play. All the while, the nonresponsive organization will be falling behind.
As bad as that sounds, there are even worse long-term risks in ignoring CSR. Such an organization is not engaging its stakeholders in a meaningful way. This leaves the organization vulnerable to risks in its operating environment and oblivious to new opportunities.
Hopefully your PR sense tingled at that last statement. As we know, public relations is about bridging concerns and interests between an organization and its stakeholders. A weak (or no) CSR strategy is a tell-tale sign of a weak public relations strategy or role in the organization. Where does your organization fall within this picture?
We are (or should be) in a position to identify and bring CSR issues to the attention of senior management, providing context and communicating relative urgency and importance. Certainly, gaining buy-in and perspective from other key departments is also important.
PR can truly offer unique value to an organization looking to firm up its CSR approach. Consider that CSR extends into all functional areas of an organization, and involves internal and external stakeholders. The people best positioned to coordinate such an effort naturally reside in the PR area.
Once management is on side, PR can be instrumental in engaging internal and external stakeholders in order to come up with a well-conceived sustainability strategy. This is more than a green-washing effort or making the status quo look good. And it is so much more than increasing sales. It is about ensuring that an organization is responsive to the environments in which it operates. Such a strategy takes time, commitment and genuine effort – and all the skill that PR professionals have to offer.
The CPRS National Conference Experience
By Julie Kentner, CPRS Manitoba Secretary
February 5, 2014
If you don’t like what people are saying, just change the conversation. But as we all know, that simple statement belies the true complexity of public relations. With so many conversations going on at once, public relations practitioners must keep honing their skills to stay on top of things.
In June 2013, I had the opportunity to join six of my CPRS Manitoba colleagues and take part in my first national conference, hosted by CPRS Ottawa-Gatineau.
It was an amazing introduction to some of the work being done across the country, and I was blown away by the great speakers, valuable sessions and the opportunities for thought-provoking discussions with other public relations professionals.
There were case studies in crisis communications, thinking strategically and media relations, alongside presentations on the changing media landscape, social media and the future of public relations itself.
But aside from the sessions one of the real opportunities was being able to connect with others in my sector. The chance to share stories with others who have similar experiences was a great way to learn new tactics, and even share a few tips of my own.
The 2014 national conference will be held May 25 to 27 in Banff, Alberta. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll come back rejuvenated and excited about working to change the conversation every day.
The APR Experience
By Lorne Kletke, APR, CPRS Manitoba Treasurer 2013-2015
November 6, 2013
As a member of CPRS, you have likely received encouragement from the national office and our own chapter to seek your Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). I would like to share my own perspectives, as a recently accredited member, on why now is the time for you to take the challenge. I’ve structured this blog around what I think may be perceived barriers for some members.
What’s in it for me?
I’ll get to the personal value of APR in a moment, but first consider what getting your APR does for the professional body. A strong, active accreditation system is vital to a profession, including public relations. We are not “spin doctors” – we have a code of ethics, history, theory, and practical approaches that make us uniquely suited to solve contemporary business and social issues. As members of this profession, we should want to contribute towards a positive public perception of PR.
As to what’s in it for you, here are just a few, as mentioned by other APRs:
- It uniquely qualifies you to work in PR. Some career postings list the APR as an asset.
- You (re)gain confidence in core skills.
- It demonstrates your ongoing professional commitment.
Is the “APR” designation that well-known outside of PR circles?
This may or may not be the case locally. Like any profession, it is up to members to make it work. APR is recognized nationally and internationally, with career listings including accreditation as a requirement or preference. You will be able to carry this designation anywhere you may go throughout your career – regardless of the industry or locale. Furthermore, having the designation may open a conversation among (potential) clients and employers as they ask what it stands for. What a great opportunity to sell your services!
Will the process be time-consuming?
CPRS has worked hard to make the accreditation process a positive experience that is both challenging yet respectful of your busy life. The work sample requires some thoughtful input, but is not burdensome and is in fact a great “debriefing” of a personal project that you will find professionally rewarding. The written and oral exams are conveniently held in Winnipeg, which eliminates the need for travel for most of us.
I already have education/life experience in PR – why do I need accreditation?
Simply put, you don’t know what you don’t know about PR until you go through the accreditation process. You may be surprised at what you have forgotten since taking your post-secondary education in PR. Studying for the exams is an excellent learning process, and CPRS has many resources available to help.
Isn’t accreditation for senior practitioners?
You must have practiced PR for at least 5 years. This does not make the APR a senior-level-only proposition. Think of it this way: the sooner you become accredited, the sooner you will receive its benefits and the longer you will enjoy those benefits throughout your career.
What will my peers think if I fail?
Everyone in the accreditation process, from local to national testers and judges, take confidentially seriously. Your application is confidential, and if you happen to fail a part of the process, this is also kept confidential. Further, you have an opportunity to continue your application the next year. Instead of thinking about the possibility of failing, consider what it means to take the challenge: you are placing yourself among the best in the industry – surely a noble aim!