Public relations professionals have had a full plate on their table. As in most issues, there are more than one and sometimes several sides to a story or issue so how’s a PR person supposed to be effective?
In order to have a chance of being effective, a PR person must not only have a goal but also a plan in reaching it. The goal must be specific and measurable, and there must also be a timetable tied to incremental goals along the way.
An effective PR person is also a good researcher. Sometimes the data is already there and just needs to be gathered and analyzed. Other times, it means organizing and conducting surveys, focus groups and/or community meetings. Whatever the scenario, the data gathered and analyzed is invaluable in understanding the targeted public as well as putting together a strategy focused on them.
Good relationships are an important cornerstone of an effective PR person. The skill and ability to move in and out of different audiences, including some whose mission and values may be divergent, is priceless. Understanding the basis for other opinions gives the PR pro the insight into anticipating, addressing and defusing potential negativity.
A good relationship is critical when a PR pro must disagree with a suggestion that may take a client or brand off in a perilous direction. Having a reputation as a sincere and trustworthy professional is priceless at such times.
As a trained speaker, there’s often a tendency to want to lead and be in control of a conversation, but being a good listener is essential as well. It sometimes takes a lot more patience surrendering most of a conversation with others but the information gleaned is worthwhile. Asking questions that delve into the reasons why a person feels or behaves one way can yield a treasure trove of data.
Awareness is important. This goes not just to being conscious of what’s on today’s news but also clients’ industries as well as trends and changes within the PR profession. Being knowledgeable and current with social media and shifts in favored platforms is also essential. Having this collective awareness enables the PR pro to see the bigger picture and how a piece in one part of a PR campaign can advance the overall business.
An effective PR person is a first-rate communicator. This means excellence in writing as well as speaking before a variety of groups. The latter includes people within the same organization, clients, the news media, government and regulatory officials, and the general public. In today’s online world, it also means a deep knowledge, understanding and application of content and digital marketing.
The heart and soul of good PR is candor. It’s easy for some to dismiss PR as spin or bells and whistles, but an effective PR person is one who is honest with clients and the public. Integrity is priceless and difficult to regain once it’s lost. The membership-supported Public Relations Society of America has long had and promoted a code of ethics that every PR pro, member or not, should follow and embrace.
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