I graduated in 2011 with a degree in Public Communication where I was introduced to the wild world of public relations. I held 10 internships where I learned about public relations, media relations, and media in varying industries.
I’m also now in the Integrated Marketing Communication program where my understanding of public relations has been strengthened. And one of my hats at work is public relations.
I may be just a new young professional (I’ve only been employed in the industry for 13 months), but here is a list of truths as I know it now. Of course, with age and experience, these are all rightly subject to change.
1. Social media is NOT the end all. It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine to see people rely on social media as a bottom line public relations strategy. Social media is for cultivating relationships and establishing your brand as a personable, knowledgeable, and visible. There’s a strategic message that is relayed via social media, but it’s not baseline PR plan. Remember, there are other ways to be in the minds of your customers/audiences. Be there, too.
2. “No Comment” is a bad comment. Some argue with this idea, but in my opinion, “no comment” is basically shooting yourself in the foot. Amid a crisis, ensure that the designated spokesperson knows how to handle a sticky situation with a well-crafted, but genuine, statement that recognizes the issue at hand and that there are steps being taken to handle said situation. As for other members of your organization who could be grilled for details, make sure they’re coached on how to elegantly let people know that they’re unable to answer any questions per organizational policy. “No comment” is untrustworthy (& from my perspective, kind of lazy).
3. It’s about who you know. Being proactive is one of the best ways to become a successful PR pro. Get to know other people in the media and other people in the public relations field because those are the people you will rely on for extra coverage down the line. Networking events are in abundance – go to them!
4. Public Relations isn’t about spinning the story. Your job is to highlight what’s new and what’s big. It’s not to create something out of nothing. Be noteworthy and be relevant. According to Seth and Fitzpatrick, the ethical loyalties of a public relations professionals are the duties you have to your self, client, employer, profession, media, and society. Act accordingly.
5. Be prepared to change with the times. Public relations professionals from 1989 (the year I was born) lived in a much different world than I do now as a 23 year old. But it doesn’t really require a lifetimes worth of years to accept change. Even from when I graduated in 2011, things have changed rapidly that PR pros need to be cognizant of. Mobile marketing, the power of social media from a PR and customer service aspect, and digital content are all necessary things to keep in mind. And even then, as I’m honing my content marketing skills and my social media wiles, I know to keep an eye on what’s next. Don’t get left behind. The internet, it turns out, isn’t just a fad.
Of course, I know quite a bit of other things about public relations. I’m constantly keeping up to date (har – #5) on issues and trends in the industry at-large. But these are things I’d stand behind and evangelize to current students of PR and communications.
What about you? What would you tell students or people interested in PR the top things they should know? Do you disagree with what I consider truths? Leave me a comment and discuss!