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!

The Impact of Social Media on PR

The world of public relations is changing, and we must change with it.

Since the birth of social media, people have used various platforms to build communities, keep in contact with distant family members, share personal life updates and more. But over the past decade, businesses have made use of platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to further their goals of connecting directly with the public.

According to a recent ING survey, 81% of PR pros feel they can no longer do their job without social media. Read that again. Now, let it sink in. But how much has social media changed your role in the past year? The past five years? Even ten?

As social media continues to evolve and new opportunities come to life, we as PR pros should be aware of the effect social media has on traditional public relations in order to create effective strategies for our clients. Here are just a few ways social media is impacting PR:

More data-driven initiatives.
Who doesn’t love more data? With more than 3.48 billion users on social media platforms, it’s no surprise that companies leveraging these platforms have more data than ever to help them make decisions. When looking at your company’s overarching goals, determine which key performance indicators (KPIs) will be most beneficial to your business. If you’re running an educational campaign, you’ll want to measure reach and impressions. If your goal is to increase sales, you’ll want to track engagements and click-throughs. And with platforms like Sprout Social, it’s easy! Then leverage these KPIs during the decision-making process to create better campaigns and earn better results.

Making use of the abundance of data will not only empower your team to create better social content, but it can also help identify which topics are “media-worthy.” By leveraging the social proof found on your channels, you can show members of the media that the storyline in question really will generate more readership.

More visual storytelling content.
Similar to PR, businesses can use social media to tell the story of their brand. Instead of searching strictly for earned media opportunities, businesses using social media platforms can reach their target audiences directly and engage with them on a deeper level. Consider creating video content to tell the story of a customers’ success with your brand and using your social media channels to share that story with your most loyal followers.

But don’t flood every social media channel with the same content at the same time. Strategize on which platform the content will perform best, test it out and alter your strategy for other channels. Once you find out which content best tells the story of your brand, you can further leverage that content to visually tell your story to members of the media.

More opportunities to work with “celebrities.”
Almost any brand would be thankful to be endorsed by a celebrity. And now, thanks to social media, you can! It might not be a movie star, but nano-, micro-, and macro-influencers are taking the social media world by storm.

Nano-influencers are defined as niche social media profiles with less than 10,000 followers. Micro-influencers are considered “mid-tier” and typically have between 10,000 and 200,000 followers, while macro-influencers are defined as having more than 200,000 followers.

Like trade publications, social influencers are a great way to reach a specific type of social media user. These users likely overlap with the target audience(s) you’re trying to reach with your traditional PR efforts. If you’re selling a product that makes people’s lives easier, consider partnering with lifestyle influencers to promote your brand. For example, Massage Heights Indy partners with nano- and micro-influencers around the city of Indianapolis to demonstrate the benefits of continued massage therapy through a 6-month journey. They invite influencers in for monthly complimentary massages and sit back while the social pros do the rest.

This tactic works for a number of industries and, in addition to storytelling, provides brands with user-generated content that can be leveraged as marketing collateral. It also lends a great deal of authenticity to your brand because it is real people telling real stories in a relatable way.

More affordable for small businesses.
Like earned media, social media is “free.” But, also like earned media, getting results takes time and effort. For brands who don’t have a large advertising budget, social media is a great way to share your brand story in an affordable way.

From exchanging products or services with influencers in exchange for content, to low-budget social media advertisements targeted to users in specific locations or with specific interests, social media is a great way to share content with your audience while maximizing your budget and providing stellar results.

More direct conversations.
Traditional public relations efforts are now vastly different, thanks to social media. Rather than drafting a press release and circulating to reputable media outlets under embargo, you can update your most loyal followers directly using social media, generating a buzz, and let the media members come to you. You can also tap into your brand ambassadors and leverage your social influencer partnerships to build an even bigger buzz about a product launch or an exciting company update.

When you do connect with media and secure coverage for your brand, make sure to promote it on social media – but be strategic about it! Connect with the writer on any and all available platforms so you can tag them in your posts. You should also tag the publication itself and consider engaging with both the publication and the writers’ content on a regular basis. If you show them some social love, they’re bound to return the favor at some point!

Don’t just think of social media as a sales tool, think of it as a way to connect with your audience on a deeper level and create a community of people with like-minds and similar interests. You never know when you may need to leverage this audience down the line to brainstorm new content ideas, campaigns and products by tapping into existing conversations or simply listening to what customers want and need.

Need help getting your social media strategy up and running? Check out our services page or contact Lauryn Gray to find out how we can help!

The Importance of Building A Personal Brand in PR

When it comes to communicating in the business world, there’s nothing more important than strong, authentic branding. When done properly, a brand tells a story, builds a customer base and captures attention. As PR professionals, we are often so focused on building our clients’ brands that we forget about the importance of our own personal brands.

In my previous blog post, I discussed the growing importance of visuals in the 21st century. Well, coinciding with this hot topic, it has become increasingly more imperative for PR professionals to build and maintain a strong image – or personal brand – to further the success of their company.

Personal branding is the practice of individuals marketing themselves and their careers as brands. It signifies who you are as a professional, and as we know, image speaks volumes in today’s world. Personal branding is not simply boasting your successes, but instead, an opportunity to promote your company, skill sets and accomplishments in a way that rings true to who you are and what you’re working to achieve in the industry.

In this article, I’ll highlight three ways #PRpros can leverage their own personal brand – whether it be via social media or social networking – to further promote their company and ensure long-term success. 

Establishing credibility
Your personal brand can add tremendous value to your company in a way that offers a realistic glimpse into who is behind the success. People like to know people. In particular, potential clients want to know the team members they will be working with. They want to know they can trust them, and that they’ll conduct business in a way that rings true to the company’s vision and values. The first places they’ll go to retrieve this information is either LinkedIn, Google or quite possibly, Instagram.

If your presence is nonexistent, then uh-oh, you may raise some red flags.

Is this person real?
Do they care about their job?
Who exactly am I working with?

That’s probably what colleagues asked when I left my Instagram blank for months. However, now, I’ve learned the value in my personal brand. Whether its tagging your company in your bio, sharing client coverage on your feed, or capturing the most recent team building event, your personal brand serves as an excellent platform to advocate for your company. If employees and high-level executives maintain trustworthy, authentic personal brands, then in turn, the company will be perceived as the same.

Enhancing storytelling
At the core of every PR professional is their passion for storytelling. It’s what drives our efforts and essentially lands us clients. Well, a personal brand in itself tells a story – your story. Between your hobbies, how you conduct yourself over the phone, the articles you read and share online, and the clothes you wear, your brand tells the story of your life, and if leveraged appropriately, your career. It has the power to transform your company from a faceless brand to a group of passionate professionals.

Furthermore, your approach towards storytelling can prove much more impactful than the typical cut and dry corporate approach. Taking a client story or company win, adding a personal touch or authentic tone to it and re-sharing it with your audience can prove much more impactful. In fact, when brand messages are shared by employees on social media, the estimated reach of a post increases by 561%when compared to the same messages shared by the brand’s social media channels. See, people like people, and your personal brand – comical, glamourous, sophisticated or whatever it may be – can capture the story in a greater way that leaves a lasting impression and sparks interest in your company.

Strengthening recruitment
As a millennial, social media is my channel of choice to help build my personal brand. And pretty frequently, my friends, family and industry peers react to the numerous posts I share involving any company events or my career success:

Your job looks so fun!
What an incredible story!
OMG that’s amazing!


They don’t realize it, but I am leveraging my attempt at a “witty yet refined” personal brand to advocate for my company. By integrating my personal values and company culture into my personal brand, I’ve attracted like-minded folks and cultivated a desire to work at Dittoe PR. Therefore, personal branding serves as a key player in talent acquisition, which can lead to 33% higher revenue for your company. While it’s easy to focus entirely on building the company brand, it’s the people behind the brand that potential clients, colleagues and consumers connect with most and evoke behavior – whether it be clicking the story link, signing the contract or applying for the position.

If your personal brand is already well-established, but you’d like some assistance with your company’s brand – we’re just a click away from helping you craft the professional image your business desires.