The Importance of Networking for PR Pros

As public relations and communications professionals, we’re no strangers to speaking with new people. Whether it’s clients, reporters or influencers – we are constantly networking.

However, when was the last time you networked outside of the usual “people you kind of already know?” I’m talking about walking into a room and not knowing anyone. Does the thought alone make your hands sweat? If so, you aren’t alone! In fact, one in four professionals admit they don’t network at all. But let’s change that.

Networking is a vital skill for PR and communications professionals. I’m a firm believer in stepping out of your comfort zone and the minute you do – you’ll see growth. Here are four reasons why you need to find a networking event ASAP and sharpen your skills.

Job opportunities.
It may be hard to believe, but most millennials actually love to network, as there can be hundreds of job opportunities that come from it. According to Virgin Wireless, 85 percent of positions are filled through networking alone. So, if you’re unemployed or unhappy in your current position, explore various networking opportunities. You never know what they may turn into!

Helpful tip: As a recent college grad, I found my success in networking after collecting business cards and emailing those who I met the next day. It shows your connections that you are serious and interested in the conversation. With this process, you’re guaranteed to make an impression. Plus, it allows you to stick out of the crowd. Not everyone, nor even half will email their new connections the next day! 

Gaining new ideas.
It’s common for mid-level employees and professionals to enjoy networking, but the end result can sometimes look different. Instead of seeking job opportunities, they like to connect to share ideas and gain new insight. For example, you may be having a difficult time reaching an audience in a thought-provoking way. However, if we are networking with other like-minded professionals, your connections may have insight on how to better reach the audience in question. 

Meeting professionals who have the same challenges but are willing to share their solutions is a great form of encouragement. Learn to rely on your network when things get tough. Sharing information is a key role in communications careers, and I challenge you to share ideas at your next networking opportunity. 

Finding new business opportunities.
Networking can also bring upon fresh business opportunities in places you might not expect. Typically, this is where the big bang on ROI kicks in. People you meet networking can often help you to identify new market opportunities you might not have thought of previously.

For example, are you a freelancer wanting to tap into the nonprofit market? Research nonprofit networking events near you and make those connections.

Finding the right mentors.
When I was in college, I was grateful enough to be placed with a professional mentor and I truly believe through that professional relationship, I was taught valuable skills. I was able to make more connections, gain real-world knowledge and have a professional reference at hand if I ever needed it.

You’re never too young or too old for a professional mentor. The key is to find someone who can teach you and advise when things get tough. I recommend finding someone in a position higher than yours, as they often have already navigated those rough waters and paved the way.

Already have a mentor? Consider becoming one yourself. While at networking events, connect with younger professionals or students. Not only will they be thrilled to learn from someone with more experience, but those relationships can even grow into life-long friendships.

Networking is vital in our profession, and you should treat it as such. Research local groups in your area for networking opportunities. A good place to start are chambers of commerce, professional associations and more.

A few of my local Indy favorites are below!

Grab your professional blazer and practice your handshake, because you are officially ready to network!

Want to professionally network with our Dittoe PR staff? We meet with local students and professionals often to grab coffee and chat about opportunities. Check out our team page – we’d love to hear from you!

Pitching 101: Media advisories, press releases and more

Being a young professional in the industry, many of my closest friends and family still don’t understand exactly what public relations and media relations consists of. To keep the conversation short and sweet, I describe my profession as “emailing reporters and asking them to cover my client’s story,” which isn’t technically wrong. But it’s also so much more than that.

 

From drafting media advisories and finalizing press releases, to tailoring the perfect email pitch to the lifestyle reporter, my job can get pretty hectic!

 

In order to get coverage for a client, these tactics are the most important pieces to the media relations puzzle. Check out the most common – and successful- tools for pitching your ideal reporter below:

 

Press release

A press release, also commonly referred to as a news release, is a PR professional’s greatest asset and tool (besides the AP Stylebook!). A press release is a short, compelling news story with statements from the company that outline the most important details of an announcement. A few examples that warrant a press release include:

 

  • Moving to/opening a new location
  • Announcing a new product or service
  • Announcing a key new hire or promotion
  • Winning an award
  • Company rebrand
  • Promoting an upcoming event

 

Press releases are written with the intention of sending to members of the media. Yes, sometimes they can be housed on a company website, but the sole purpose is for the media to pick one up and decide to cover the announcement in an upcoming broadcast or draft a story online or in print.

 

Media advisory

A media advisory is not a press release and the intent is actually different, too. A media advisory is written for the media, but it’s used to make them aware of your announcement, and hopefully to cover it, too! Media advisories work best for events, press conferences or grand openings. It’s common that an event might warrant both a press release and a media advisory, if it’s important enough.

 

The best media advisories should include the “5 W’s” or the who, what, where, when and why of the event. If your advisory is lacking any details or information, it’s likely the reporter won’t take the time to reach out and ask for clarification.

 

Basic pitch

Believe it or not, sometimes your email to a reporter doesn’t have to include a release or an advisory. If you have something newsworthy for a client, but you’re not necessarily inviting them anywhere or it doesn’t warrant a release, you also have the option to simply draft the perfect email and hit send. It’s a great, quick and easy way to get your client’s name out there without spending hours on creating an extra deliverable.

 

If you decide to send a pitch, personalize it! Depending on who you’re pitching, reporters can get upwards of 500 emails each day. So, make your pitch stand out against the rest.

 

A few ways to do this include using catchy emojis or their first name in the subject line. Personalize your email further by finding out what the reporter enjoys or what they typically write about and tying it into your intro. I like to visit reporters’ Twitter accounts to gain insight before hitting send. Whatever you do though, make sure your pitch is filled with information and leave nothing to the imagination.

 

Hopefully I’ve given you enough basic information to get you started. Remember, include all the details, make it unique, make it personal, and you’re bound to have luck! Just keep pitching.

 

Need help drafting your next press release? Looking to get results for your next company announcement?  Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to set up a consultation today!

Shifting Skillset for PR Pros: Social Media

The public relations industry has long been built on two core skills: writing flawless content and garnering influential media coverage on behalf of a client. If you embodied both skills, and could execute them well, you were bound to be a successful PR pro.

 

But, what about today? With the evolving skillset of PR professionals, it’s more important than ever to be armed with multiple proficiencies to develop and manage successful campaigns. In addition to the core competencies of a traditional PR professional, the following social media skills are key for any PR professional looking to grow within the industry.

 

Reporting social analytics.

Sure, writing a captivating Facebook post is great, but it doesn’t carry a lot of weight if  you can’t show its audience reach. Tracking analytics allows us to identify what’s working and what could use some changes. If an Instagram post gets 30 more likes than usual, we need to ask ourselves why, review and analyze the metrics, and carry key facets of that post into future social media content. Whether it’s through paid or free reporting services, professionals should be tracking impressions, engagements, reach and more to better understand social performance.

 

Social advertising.

Public relations often intersects with advertising, traditional and social. It’s common to facilitate or provide recommendations for advertising requests. According to the latest CMO survey, social media advertising budgets are predicted to increase by 32 percent in 2018 and almost double by 2023. Understanding basic terminology and vocabulary is easy with simple resources searches online, but to truly become well-versed in the space, you may consider taking an academic course on social advertising.

 

Basic graphic design.

Crafting social media messages is imperative, but so is creating the right image to go along with it! Graphics are a great asset to use text, photos and elements that can make your social post stand out. Although the most seasoned graphic designers use Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, it’s not necessary for all public relations professionals. Canva, a free website with a “drag-and-drop” format, is an easy tool for beginners. Let your social images stand out, not blend in.

 

As the public relations industry continues to evolve, its professionals should too. Take time to gain a basic understanding of traditional and new-age PR tactics, and you (and your clients) will be in good hands.

 

Think your business could benefit from social media and reporting metrics? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com, or request a consultation today.