The PR Newsletter Ragan.com has a post offering some tips for people new to the Public Relations field. The piece takes suggestions from seven PR pros who blog.
It's worth a look, although a few of the suggestions, while well-meaning, could apply to a newcomer in any field, not just PR. One expert suggests new people LEAD, her acronym for "Listen, Experience, Ask and Dare." Another says to be proactive and useful. A third suggests "Don't ever get complacent." Duh.
Decent advice but I'm not sure those tips would be what I would consider my best advice to someone entering PR.
A few that I feel are a bit more useful include getting immersed in digital and social media. Two of the experts gave that advice, and I would imagine most young people coming into the job market have more experience with social media than those who came in 10 and 20 years ago. It is certainly of growing importance.
Another tip: Ask lots of questions and read everything you can get your hands on. Good advice, but the tip fell short by giving as an example the writer's first job at an agency, where she had to make copies. She read almost everything she copied, which she says helped her quickly learn about the clients' business and earned her a quick promotion.
Not as much copying is done these days, but I suggest the reading be more focused on top newspapers like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and even USA Today. Reading these with a critical eye can help hone writing skills and also help you understand what makes a good story. That is crucial for someone starting out in the PR field. Also, read the trade pubs that cover the fields your clients are in, so you can quickly get an idea of what is happening and what might - or might not - be news.
A few other tips I would offer for PR Newbies:
1) Learn to put yourself into the mind of your target. If the target is an editor you want to pitch, try to think why information you have would be of interest to that editor's readers or viewers. How will your information help the reporter give information that is useful to his audience? If all you can come up with are self-serving reasons like it will help my client sell widgets, then you need to rethink your pitch and, possibly, even rethink if that media target is the right one to go after.
2) Be honest. Don't try to fudge facts or hide something. A good reporter will eventually find it and you will end up on his "delete" list as spam.
3) Learn to write news releases in a proper journalistic style. News releases are not ads, so they shouldn't be filled with hype and cutesy slogans and jargon. Follow basic journalistic rules, where the most important information (important to the reader, not necessarily from your client's point of view) is at the top.
Those are just a few things I would add to the list.
Public Relations is a great field, where you can be constantly learning, and where very few days are like the day before. And you can make a nice living from it.
It's why even after more than 35 years in PR, I still look forward to going to work every day.