How important is it to learn the basics of PR for absolute starters?

Public relations is an exciting profession, and at the same time demanding, and full of spontaneity. What is more interesting about the PR profession is that one is exposed to all sorts of roles and responsibilities, such as digital marketing, content development, influencer relations, media management, corporate affairs, etc. With each passing year, more and more young people entering the PR community who are inspired and keen to attain the ability to become highly successful and innovative PR leaders. 

At the beginning of their career, most executives end up working on operations tasks including press release follow-ups, story placements or media list updation. However, a lot of challenges faced by entry-level PR professionals go unspoken, and they end up making rookie mistakes over and over again that could have been prevented with proper training, practice and guidance. 

A skilled PR professional knows how to overcome challenges, leverage opportunities, sell stories, create a positive picture, build good media relationships and to strategise. The key to attaining skills and success in the ever-evolving PR community is to adopt the mantra of 3Cs: Content, Communication and the Community using the following: 

  • Hands-on experience always wins

It is essential to know the nitty-gritty of the PR profession, and so do speak to your mentors and immediate leaders who will help you recognise your strengths and areas of growth. Just because someone has 10 degrees or certifications on their resume does not mean that they will benefit from them in the future. Research, read and ask the correct questions!

  •  Read and watch

PR practitioners need to stay ahead of their game all the time. In this modern age, clients have started taking an interest in being aware of their surroundings and competition through various online resources. It even puts more pressure on PR executives to keep abreast of the latest developments in the client-specific domains. For beginners, reading the newspapers, mapping competition brands and watching talk shows or channels is absolutely necessary and should be a part of their everyday routine lives. Knowing editorial guidelines, deadlines and calendar, and how clients can fit into their stories, is imperative to function well in the system. Remember, learning supersedes all the other things in PR.

  • Prone to rejection

Be ready to experience a fair share of rejection, especially if you are a beginner in PR. Just because your pitch didn’t see the light of day doesn’t mean that it never will. As a PR professional, one must realise that every angle is not going to land right in the editorial board. Make sure to stay in touch with the editor and keep improvising your pitch from time to time. Your story angle might not be a good match right now, but it may be relevant and of interest to the journalist in the future. The whole idea is to embrace and improve.

  • Calling Who? 

Today, we’ve got forums like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to lay your hands on the basic details about the person we’re about to call. You can easily find out if the person is a she or he? If the person relevant to your topic of discussion? How can he or she help you? It’s always best to plan your thoughts before you start engaging with the media, and it’s a must for any executive to start a PR career to communicate clearly and in a crisp manner. For the first time callers, it is a good practice great to ask questions as to what would interest them in various subjects, will only prepare for the next opportunity that you get to interact with them. Else, you can come off as cold and impersonal that can further jeopardise your relations with the media. Understanding your media stakeholders is a must to your growth; it lets us communicate with our clients in a much more persuasive manner.

  • Not always a 9-to-5 job

The PR ecosystem has changed over the years, with too many outlets to keep up with it. If you are looking for work-life balance all the time, then you are in for a surprise. At the beginner levels, you could be spending considerable hours scanning new stories, talking to the media, ideating to sustain your client’s presence in the media. Interns may require to put in extra hours to improve the knowledge base. So, do not hesitate to invest time in your growth and learning that will ensure the survival of your career in the long term. 

In any evolving business environment, effective PR practices can establish trust, improve the reputation of a brand, strengthen a brand’s image and attract more businesses. The lesser-known fact to many professionals (as well as clients) is that public relations is more than just exchanging images and news releases with local media outlets. But gradually, we see more and more brands are recognising the importance of PR, and increasingly PR consultants are also playing an essential role as part of the “C-suite” squad and getting included in the strategic brand discussions. And not to forget we are own ambassadors! 

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Jyoti Sharma
With over six years of experience, Jyoti Sharma is a seasoned PR professional. With her problem-solving approach, she manages client-agency relationships, media relations, strategize brand campaigns, knowledge sharing, and capitalise on the untapped areas for B2B IT/Tech brands. In the past, Jyoti has worked as a PR Consultant for reputed companies like Text100 (Now Archetype), Hill + Knowlton Strategies, Soulmedia, amongst others.

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