Category Archives: Public Relations Habits

Details, Details (Continued)… Resources to Help You Get There

picture-11In the last post, I stressed how important it is to adopt (or in my case, feign) a detail-oriented work style as a young PR professional. One of those things I wish someone had spelled out for me: “You. Will. Not. Survive. If. You. Can’t. Remember Master. The. Details!”

But in keeping my promise to return with some organizational tools, I realized that I don’t use a ton of tools in getting everything done and handled in an organized way. I generally just beat my head into a wall when I mess up, and then write everything I need to do everywhere until it gets done – and then I cross it off triumphantly. But if you are more organized than I am about being organized, here are some tools that can help.

  • Remember the Milk: My colleague, Lindsey, said it best when she declared in an organization training we had at LaunchSquad, “‘Remember the Milk’ has changed my life!” It keeps your list of to-dos handy so that you can keep track of deadlines for all of your tasks. It’ll tell you when something’s overdue, and let’s you know when you’ve got time with other tasks. It can also be a desktop application or it can live in your email so that you have your list right there to reference as you finish up your work.
  • Google Docs & Spreadsheets: Perfect for collaborative projects, tracking revisions, formatting bulleted content within emails, keeping track of large amounts of data, tracking coverage activity that you’ll need to have handy on the fly. And they’re completely searchable if you’re looking for a rarely-used document or spreadsheet.
  • Google Alerts: Part of being on top of the details, is knowing what’s going on in your client’s industry. For the most part, they’re very good for staying on top of industry news, cleint/competitor coverage. I use them mostly, though, as reminders to pitch (and great sources for finding targets). Using smart keywords, you can find some great authors and publications that are perfect for your clients.
  • Desktop “stickies”: I use these to keep account logins handy (ie: Marketwire login info, internet access account logins), client contacts and dial-ins for status calls, directions for releasing announcements onto the wire, client codes for billing – and of course songs/artists that I heard on Pandora that I want to remember to download. All in one place.
  • Jott: Great for notes/tasks on the go. Simply speak either into their iPhone application or you call a number and then it transcribes what you say into tasks. Set it up to email or text people for you – it connects to Google Calendar and Remember the Milk, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.com etc. It also has an adobe air desktop app.
  • Evernote: I use Evernote’s clipping function for visually referencing competitors’ web-pages, important graphics, client coverage hits so that I can easily decide which clips are most visually stimulating. The tagging feature makes search functionality is very effective.

Just some pointers for the (recovering) detail-ignorant like myself.

*Photo courtesy of Details Magazine.

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Details, details… Why You (as a young PRo) Need To Be Nit-Picky NOW.

picture-1I am not the most detail-oriented person. Not by a long shot. I am more what you’d call a “Big Picture,” conceptual person. Which is why, in the first months of my job, I struggled a lot with not seeing the value in details and not grasping for a while just HOW MUCH I needed to harness those details on all of my teams.

If your work environment is anything like mine, you’re on multiple teams and it’s very collaborative. Everyone does everything until the job gets done. It’s nice to see the managers of accounts chiming in and even sometimes drafting pitches and releases.

These are wonderful things to be able to expect from your teams and and managers. However, bear in mind what is expected of you at the bottom of the totem pole:

1. You are the gate-keeper of information. Your account managers will often be overseeing all of the high-level activity in several accounts, not just yours. It’s up to you to be on top of every single detail and moving part within your account so that if they need to know if a client has sent their feedback on a release, you can update them right away.

2. You are the task master. If someone’s been assigned a new Washington Post target, you need to check and make sure they’ve been pitched. You need to be sure of everyone’s pitching progress at any time. You need to know everyone’s progress on everything at all times. Don’t be afraid to manage up on this one.

3. Your clients probably care. Client-facing emails, especially with small companies aren’t uncommon for the young AA or AAE. Typos (and believe me, I am THE WORST with typos, just read some of my past blogs) look so bad to clients. Doesn’t matter if it’s a short, logistical (“Please use the usual dial-in”) message or a large, content-heavy correspondence. Same for client deliverables – PR reports, tracking sheets, whether hard copies, PDFs or Google docs, these need to be flawless.

4. Your teams DO care. They definitely care if they can’t trust you to send simple messages that are error-free to clients. Especially avoidable errors. Spell-check and have them proofed (it’s a killer to your writer/communicator’s ego, but worth it when you start to pick up the nuances of client communications). Never send a client email without letting your team know, or CC-ing them (once again, please learn from MY mistakes here).

5. It kind of becomes second nature. At some point you just learn how to do it without thinking about it. And you’ll find that as your organization increases so does your productivity. So it’s definitely worth the extra care and time that you put into it now.

6. Important: If you let them, disorganization and small mistakes WILL run the way you do things and define you as a professional. Small mistakes that go unchecked can quickly brand you as sloppy and unprofessional and will even faster become habits and harder to manage and rid yourself of.

This has been one of the most aggravating things to learn as I’ve gone out into the “real world.” Do whatever it takes to incorporate this into your work habits even if you’re cursing those detail oriented, anal-retentives who sit next to you. Eat some humble pie and learn from them.

*Organization tips to follow. Photo courtesy of Details magazine.

Stuff PR People Like

Piggy-backing one of my favorite blogs, these are some observations of a Pre-PRo and should be taken as such. However, I have to say, these are some things I’ve noticed as I’ve hung out with more of “you people” and when I ponder these and look at my future in PR, I’m good with it. Here’s why:

Stuff PR People Like (in no particular order):

  • Blogs, Blogging, the Blogosphere: We like being part of it all. We like the reciprocity. We give, you give back.
  • Business-Casual: We clean up pretty good. But we sure like to pair our heals or loafers with a nice pair of Seven jeans and a sweater rather than your usual pant-suite. It lets us not only show our personal style and trendiness, but it’s also damn comfortable.
  • San Francisco/Boston/New York City: Everywhere I applied had an office in one of these cities. I can explain SF and Boston – close enough to the news making action (NYC, Silicon Valley), but far enough away to deny association if necessary. New York? Meh – it is what it is. EVERY facet of the business world is there. Helloooo.
  • Happy Hour: I have never been invited out for Happy Hour more than when I’m with PR people. Not that my social agenda is limited in any way. ButHappy Hour does serve as a good place and time to not only wind down and enjoy some well deserved brews and bar food, but it also offers great networking opportunities.
  • New Technology: Want a virtually free platform to spread your message in fun ways to finely-tuned target audiences? Why, yes. Thank you.
  • Apple/Macs: PR people love something that works well and is aesthetically pleasing. And we love Silicon Valley. And iTunes. And Steve Jobs.
  • Ethics: Since PR is such a developing industry, ethics come in all shades of gray. This presents a challenge or a game for PR people to see what kinds of tactics can be implemented while respecting ethical boundaries and yet pushing that line just enough to be noticed. As if this weren’t enough, we like to talk about, rehash and find new definitions for ethics.
  • Green: Being “green” and eco-friendly is such a successful PR campaign. It was something that used to grate on the nerves of corporate and even mainstream America. But through ingenious product placement (Urban Outfitters) and celebrity endorsement (Leonardo DiCaprio), being “green” isn’t a chore anymore: It’s hot.
  • Barack Obama: Even if we’re not going to vote for him, we tend to at least appreciate his image and reputation management. Talk about brilliance: getting Will.I.Am to produce not just one but TWO videos on your behalf and a consistent and engaged presence on Twitter. If nothing else, it gets our attention in a big way. (Speaking of which…)
  • Twitter: Thank god for it, really. For me, it serves for networking, blog promotion, research tool and journal. And that’s just for my own personal use. I imagine the possibilities for PRos and businesses are endless. Plus, it’s pretty addictive in that it takes some skill to know how to craft updates and choose links that’ll get you noticed.

On the other hand, here is a compilation of stuff PR people don’t (really) like:

  • PR people: PR is an industry in which, to become a PR professional, you can have studied anything but PR. People have been wary of me, time and again, in interviews and classes because I’m a Journalism major with a focus in PR. It’s one of the most irritating things I’ve ever encountered: English students who will probably end up practicing PR who judge me because while they have seminar classes on Olde English and Whitman, I have seminar classes on PR research methods.
  • PC’s: Even as I write this post from a PC, I’m thinking about how limited I am in that my processor is slow and susceptible to viruses and that to the world, my computer looks like that bumbling guy on the Mac commercials.
  • Liars: We work so hard to communicate the truth (even if we’re a little creative about it sometimes, that it just pisses us off when others aren’t truthful. Or at least it does me.
  • Advertising: We do basically the same thing as far as branding goes, only for less money. We also, though, handle reputation management, networking, investor relations, community relations, media relations, etc. The list goes on. Sometimes, I think I’m better than them. Even though I revere Weiden+Kennedy sometimes for their Nike and Smirnoff ads.
  • The words “publicity” and “promotion”: Oh, PLEASE. Don’t limit us to publicity and promotion. We’re so much more than that. We are democratizing, media-attention-grabbing, conversation-joining, image-consulting,  brand-positioning, product/start-up launching bad-asses who will DO WORK for you.

Feel free to add, subtract or even correct via comment. I was feeling pretty audacious today. I guess.