Villing & Company

5 New Year's Resolutions for the PR Pro

It's the season of over-indulgence and under-repentance. For many of us, the last few days of the year afford us a look at the resolutions we didn't quite accomplish.

It's no different for the public relations professional. For all our best intentions to do right by our clients and ourselves by getting that big placement, learning that new skill or building a community of brand advocates, my guess is a lot of us can point to a number of examples from 2011 where the business of PR got in the way of the practice of PR.

2012 is the year that can all change. So without further ado, here are some traditional New Year's resolutions, designed specifically for you, the harried public relations practitioner.

  1. Eat less. Specifically, eat less of a reporter's time with information both of you know isn't newsworthy. Having spent several years in a broadcast newsroom, I can tell you that quality and quantity are tied very closely together when it comes to earning a reporter's trust. Many times a client has news of internal importance to their company that simply is not interesting to the public at large.  Consistently consume their time without offering value, and you'll be cut out of a reporter's "menu" altogether.
  2. Exercise more. PR is a suite of skills, and like all skills, they tend to become dull if they're not exercised and honed regularly. Perhaps the best example in the PR world is the constantly changing world of social media. In my opinion, if you're not personally involved in learning and engaging people on at least several of these platforms, you can't speak credibly about them. You can read and recite every Mashable article ever written on the subject, but it won't be a sufficient substitute for experience.
  3. Help people. This can mean a lot of things, but I mean it here in reference to #2 on the list. You see, in 2011 we saw far too many social media blunders by big brands like Chapstick and Chrysler. Many of the cases making headlines involved a lack of common sense among the people operating the accounts. So I beseech you, PR pro of 2012, please help your team realize that social media is an extension of your overall PR efforts. To that end, anything that wouldn't be suitable as a response in "traditional" PR mediums is not suitable as a response in social media. It sounds elementary, but until we no longer see stories of just plain stupidity on the part of social media managers, it needs to be said.
  4. Take up writing. If you're not already doing it, take up blogging. You'll be surprised at the number of benefits that come from it. You'll be forced to work through professional issues by thinking critically about them. And in the process, you'll begin to define yourself as a thought leader in your profession, which will benefit both you and your current and future clients.
  5. Find a hobby. This one I mean exactly as it sounds. The job of public relations professional was named the second-most stressful job in 2011. The grind of the vocation makes burnout a very common reality. So your effectiveness may be determined by your ability to work hard over long periods punctuated by times when you hardly work. Take a break. Find something that's interesting for reasons other than its professional application. Clear your mind, unplug, and get in touch with the world outside of work.

There you have it. Five things that can help make 2012 your best year yet in public relations. Feel free to add to this list in the comments below, and here's to a happy and healthy new year.

Filed Under: public relations

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