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My $%^# ups as a PR Pro – and how I learned from them.

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[vc_row][vc_column][us_page_title align=”center”][us_separator show_line=”1″ line_width=”30″][vc_column_text]I have been working in PR for 12 years and during that time,much has changed in the field. The way in which we communicate and consume news has changed and therefore our role as communicators has taken some flips and landed in new territory. Media now has a strong social component and everyone has a voice via various online platforms. Still, people want reliable, high quality news and there are fewer journalists in the newsrooms to produce content. Bloggers and influencers are a part of the mix and diversity in our west coast city means language and cultural considerations when we work to reach Vancouver audiences.

Through all of the changes, I have worked hard to stay one step ahead but it’s not always easy. I have fallen on my butt a few times and I have made mistakes that have left me blushing and regretful. Luckily these mistakes mean learning and each time I fell, up I got with a new lesson.

As we start 2016, I wanted to share some of my recent PR mistakes, not only to remind myself what I have learned from these failures but to share with other professionals who may be able to avoid the embarrassing moments that come along with these public relations mess ups.

Here they are for all to see!

I know this reporter and her writing, even though I have not read her work in months. 

One of the basic lessons when starting in PR is the importance of knowing a reporter’s work and reading their pieces on a regular basis before approaching them with a pitch. This allows a communicator to tailor a pitch with content that is relevant to a writer, their interests and their audience.

As a senior PR pro, I found myself pitching a writer I knew, based on the content they produced….months ago. While juggling several projects, I rushed to approach a writer with a pitch, only to receive a response pointing out that she no longer wrote on this topic and that the focus of her column had changed the previous month.

Although she was kind, I felt ridiculous, having pitched her content without having a look at her recent work. Once you get to know a reporter, this doesn’t mean your research is done. Consistent news consumption and media monitoring is a must. Sometimes things are busy and you miss changes in the newsroom but I had to remind myself of respecting a journalist’s work and having a close look at their recent writing before pressing send on that email pitch.  

Surely clients know the great work we are doing for them and the results we are producing.

It’s always a fantastic feeling for my team and I when we help to generate a good media feature or favourable coverage for a client on a top local blog. We work hard to gather relevant information and present it to media in a timely manner, resulting in editorial features and online buzz about a client’s product, team members or other stories they are keen to share with local audiences.

We always send the results to our client right when the coverage appears and as the days and weeks pass, we continue to work away at opportunities for clients, whether it be extensive research, writing, media relations or maybe crafting an online promotional concept or event idea to help our client showcase their work and stories.

As we discuss the results being achieved and the work being done for a client in a given month, I have made the mistake of assuming our client is aware of all of our efforts and has the results nicely filed in a “Thexton PR rocks!” file but of course, that is not the case. Clients are so busy with various elements of their work that we cannot just assume that they know what we are working on and what we have achieved, just because we quickly sent a few emails with links and ideas to pursue.

It is so important for a PR team to send regular updates to clients on the work being executed as well as monthly summaries or reports on the results we have helped to produce. Over communicate this if you have to! Next to doing the work itself, showcasing the work so that clients can consistently see the results from their PR budgets , is the next most important part of client relations. The last thing I want is for a client to wonder…”What have you done for me lately?”  

I’m in regular contact with a great network of media, bloggers and influencers through social media and emails. That is sufficient.

I will admit that I am an introverted PR professional. Hard to believe isn’t it? I am most comfortable at my computer working and reading a book with my animals at my side in the evening.

Earlier this year, I told myself that my homebody habits were just fine because I was very well connected with media, bloggers and other local influencers through regular email and social media conversations. I was wrong.

Face time and regularly seeing local colleagues in person for coffee or lunch is such an important part of nurturing relationships. There are some parts of relationships that simply don’t grow with online dialogue alone. Its important to remember this part of Public RELATIONS. 

Work is the #1 priority, even if I am ill and exhausted.

I’m sure that many of us live by this statement, even if we don’t realize we are doing it. We get caught up in such a busy schedule and so many opportunities to pursue for our clients and our business, that our health and work-life balance suffers.

This year, I found myself exhausted and sick from a lack of taking care of my personal fitness, health and overall self-care. It took a serious dip in my health for me to realize that I was not going to be able to deliver great results for anyone if I was unhealthy. I ended up taking a short leave to get my health back in order.

You can work your butt off but don’t forget the balance. It will catch up with you. The last example I want to set for my team is that work comes at a cost of not taking care of ones self. You can be a great success and still make time for daily physical activity and the odd day off to do something just for you.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]