Improving Your PR Skills
I’ve recently started teaching French at the local university, and it made me step back and look at PR a little bit more clearly. Instead of only focusing on the way that we work – fast paced, deadline driven, and goal-oriented – teaching has made me consider the long term goals and how to achieve them.
There’s a syllabus for the class and the students have language “benchmarks” that they need to hit in their listening, reading and speaking by the end of the semester. PR is usually difficult to measure since it accounts so many variables, not just coverage alone, and seeing quantifiable goals in language has made me think of how to achieve longer term goals to gain stories. In theory it sounds easy, but where I would work with a student for a long time to get their listening comprehension up to par should be the same as how I would build a relationship with a media person and work towards a story.
There’s also the aspect of knowledge. Currently my class only knows French in the present tense; so when I speak to them in class, I have to figure out ways only to speak in the present tense. It’s entirely more challenging than I would have anticipated, but it’s helping me in PR and my writing. Considering only what my students know is a good exercise for writing content for our clients, where we have more background knowledge than the readers who we’re writing for – with the end goal of eliminating jargon. It’s also good practice for thinking of new ways to phrase things to get out of a writing cycle or rut, which can build up when you’ve been writing content for the same subject. Keeping the writing good and fresh is really important for PR pros, and being more mindful and pushing myself to do better will help me do better for my team and our clients.
Working on language skills is a time-consuming endeavor and not something that all PR pros will need to do to improve their writing, but focusing on another activity and challenging your current skills is a good way to refresh and keep yourself relevant. In writing especially, we fall into the traps of doing what’s familiar or fastest, but can really benefit from taking extra time to do something new. That new perspective could provoke a writing style that works better for a client, or a new story angle that lands your client coverage.
Because PR and social media change so quickly, we have to learn new things and adapt to stay relevant. Taking time to each one’s self new things and practice skills that could use refreshing is necessary for the job, and beneficial in the end.