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Lessons agencies learn from PR experts

Public Relations is often considered a dark craft. You won’t know a PR has been involved if they’ve doing their job well.

To be successful in Public Relations you need to be able to communicate quickly, have an exceptional work ethic and a dedication to client service. The job requires expert communication, negotiation and sales skills, highly developed writing ability, wide networks a bucket load of confidence and zero ego. (You’ve got to be cool with someone else taking all the credit.)

The life of a Public Relations is high pressure, results driven and hugely diverse.

Regardless of whether you’re in client delivery or creative, here are six lessons everyone can take from public relations – and apply to agency life.

1. Adaptability trumps experience

When dealing with different journalists, clients and outlets every day, PR’s have to be adaptable, alter their communication style, message and delivery, quickly.

If the phone calls and it’s a journalist that’s hard to get a hold of — they’ve got less than a minute to recall the message, potential story, the detail behind it and why it’s relevant.

If a story falls through, a colleague falls sick, an urgent issue arises — PR’s have to move quickly, go to plan B, summarise the key issues and communicate it in a timely manner — to ensure it’s newsworthy and on message.

Two lessons here. Firstly, make sure your team understand that coming up with a solution is far more important than making sure things always go as planned.

Apply this thinking to new and potential hires. If they don’t have the necessary experience on paper, do they have proven examples of thriving under pressure and being adaptable? Fresh blood thinking could be just what the business needs.

2. Know a little about a lot

PR’s have to remember a high level of detail across lots of different industries and be able to retract that information at a moments notice. On any given day they can be working across a number of clients and need to understand each industry intricately.

PR’s have to be across their industries’ issues, news and relevant stories as it can impact their clients’ message or provide new opportunities for their client to have a voice in the conversation.

You want highly curious individuals in your workplace. They are more likely to connect the dots and get creative to generating results.

Encourage, rather than stifle your team’s weird and wonderful outside hobbies and interests. They’ll love you for it and you’ll learn some weird and wonderful tidbits that might just come in handy come the next job.

3. Time kills all deals

News is news for a limited time. PR’s know the value of time and are deadline driven.

Don’t get back to a journalist asap? They’ll pick up another story instead. Miss a call from a client? They’ve already spoken to the press.

PR’s know to call clients back in a timely manner. They respond to the journalists’ requests immediately. They follow up new prospects leads immediately.

The same can be said for job or client leads. Take more than 48 hours to return that email or call? Chances are, they’ve gone elsewhere.

Opportunities to grow the business get overlooked every day by overworked team members. Make sure your team know how to delegate high priority tasks and understand where the priorities lie.

4. Good relationships make life easier

Establishing meaningful relationships is a big part of any successful PR’s career — and that can see a PR meeting anyone from journalists, to vendors, to major decision makers in any given day.

Having good relationships with a wide range of people means they’re able to relay information quickly to a trusted source. They’re also curious about what drives and motivates people as this helps them communicate a message in a way that has meaning to the recipient.

You’re on LinkedIn: clearly you understand widening your network outside your immediate professional and personal circle is beneficial. But do your staff? Are they encouraged to network during work hours?

Do you pro-actively encourage them to utilise their outside relationships to grow or assist the business? Get them involved and you’ll immediately see value.

Resist the temptation to feel threatened your teams’ outside networking. If you’re doing your job right — they’re not going anywhere.

5. Rejection isn’t always personal

Getting comfortable with rejection is one of the first lessons of any PR.

When a pitch isn’t quite right for a publication, PR’s don’t take it personally. Even when coverage is secured, it can get bumped for a bigger news story (breaking news, high profile political story, environmental emergency). PR’s know it’s nothing personal. They move on quickly and action plan B.

Clients are paying for placement or reputation management — not to get bumped or overlooked. Good PR’s know how to manage expectations and deliver news their clients don’t always want to hear deftly and efficiently.

Teach your staff the value of being rejected — the lessons that come as a result. Not landing a client, placement, a creative solution — it happens. It’s never one persons sole fault. Ditch the guilt trip when something goes wrong at work.

6. Deliver solutions — not problems.

News moves quickly and what is newsworthy one day — isn’t the next. PR’s thrive on risk and can find a solution when something doesn’t go as planned. They have back up plans and then some.

PR’s are opportunity lead, thrive in agency culture and are problem solvers. They identify the issue, think on their feet, come up with an alternative solution and move quickly.

If your team members are in the habit of delivering a problem (without proposing a solution), consider taking lessons from PR’s. Encourage them to consider two other potential solutions then soundboard it with you. It’ll save a bucket load of time and earn them kudos (and confidence) for taking the initiative.

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