Learning to navigate the media landscape is no easy venture. In college you’re taught about writing press releases and sending to media, but once you get into the “real world” it’s not as simple as pushing send and magically getting coverage.
Understanding how the media works and paying attention to current news will take you a long way in becoming a media pro. Whether you’re still in college or just starting out in PR, fine-tuning your media smarts right now will give you a head start.
Here are some proactive ways to get your smarts on now:
Change your perspective
Start looking at your favorite magazines but from a different perspective. If you want to work in the beauty or fashion industry, browse ELLE or InStyle and start looking at these magazines through the PR lens rather than just as the consumer.
Changing your perspective will help you see:
- What are the reoccurring feature sections in every issue?
- What are the hot products that are being written about?
- Does your brand/client have a similar or complementing product that would be of interest to readers?
Becoming smart on major outlets that fit your brand/client is crucial for any PR pro. Knowing what type of topics and products they write about and who is writing it will be invaluable when you need to land media coverage for brand news or a product launch. Editorial calendars are also a great resource when looking for ways to proactively pitch a product or idea.
Research will answer questions like:
- Are there any planned features that your brand could fit into?
- Who’s the best contact to pitch you story to?
The importance of keeping up with current news both general and in your client’s industry cannot be stressed enough.
Reading will show you:
- What are the big trends or news waves?
- Who is writing about your products and your competitor’s products?
- What outlets you should be targeting for your brand/client?
These are some very easy ways to start getting your media smarts sharpened and fine-tuned. Even though we wear many hats in public relations, it’s good to be reminded that media relations is the very core of what we do.
This month marks my one year anniversary working full-time in PR. Going into this job, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what it would be like. I’d been told agency life could be overwhelming, which made sense because PR was named one of the most stressful jobs. Regardless, I still love being a PR girl and if I can make it through my first year so can you!
Here’s 5 tips that can helped me and can help you survive and thrive in your first year:
- Be nice to everyone. This may seem obvious, but it’s so important. In a workplace full of PR girls it’s inevitable that there will be drama – stay out of it! You don’t want to get involved in these situations because it could negatively affect your image in the office, and depending on how bad it gets, it could hold you back from career-advancing opportunities.
- Make use of down time. Working in PR means you never know what to expect going in each day. Some days are out of control and others are so slow that you don’t know what to do with yourself. Having a slow day or even a slow week is a nice change of pace and gives you the opportunity to help out other accounts that you don’t work on or just time to broaden and/or sharpen your PR skills.
- Create a kudos folder. This tip was told to me by my mentor and has helped me immensely. Create a folder in your email called “kudos” and every time you get an email from a coworker saying how great you did on a project or how thankful they were for you last minute help, save it into your kudos folder. This way when it comes time for performance reviews you can go back to these kudos as part of showing your accomplishments to your manager.
- Become a research queen. You may have thought your days of researching for hours were over after you left college. It will never be over. Being an awesome “Googler” is a valuable skill to have, and knowing how to search for even the most obscure requests will make you a indispensable part of your team.
- Take initiative. This is important at any stage of your career, but especially important when you’re starting out. Taking initiative is what shows your team that you want to be there and you want to see the account be successful. It’s also a tool that will help you as you work towards a promotion.
These may seem like basic tips, but so very often they’re forgotten. Showing that your capable to take initiative and find productive uses for your downtime shows your team that you’re serious about your career. This first year is all about you proving yourself and your abilities to handle anything that comes your way.