A Typical Day in the Life of a Public Relations Professional in 2018

The irony of the headline above is that there is no typical day in public relations.

I think that’s why most of us enjoy what we do.

For me, there is a skeleton of a day waiting for me when I get to my office, but rarely a day goes by where I don’t have a wrench thrown in my plans.

Every night, before I leave the office, I write my to-do list on a giant whiteboard in my office so I know what I need to work on the next day. I find that if I write down what I have to do, I don’t stress over it when I go home.

My whiteboard.

When I arrive at work to start the day, every task (whether it’s for that day or over the course of the next few days) is in front of me. Even if it’s as simple as a follow-up phone call, I write it down. Not only does it keep me on track, but there’s something therapeutic about crossing off a task on the list.

Once I have my coffee in hand, I’m ready to start the day.

The day always begins with a quick glance at the news to see what’s trending and if any coverage ran for my clients.

Knowing what’s trending also gives me ideas for ways I can insert my clients into other stories, or come up with brand new pitches that revolve around what’s happening in their industry.

This is especially important when there are lulls between news cycles. You always want to keep your client top-of-mind. It does them no good if they go dark when they are not making an announcement.

At any given moment, I have a few pieces of coverage I’m managing. These stem from interviews that have been conducted or bylined articles that have been submitted. If I come across a piece of coverage I’m responsible for, I alert the client.

Once that is out of the way, I get down to doing the bulk of my work for the day, which usually revolves around writing.

Whether I’m writing a press release, a pitch to a reporter, or an e-mail to a client, I would venture a guess that 90 percent of my work is done via the written word.

If you can’t write, you won’t last long. But you also need to harbor a love for writing because it will become readily apparent if you’re just going through the motions.

(Of course, if you are not a good writer, but you’ve been hired to work at an agency, then that might not be your fault.)

If I’m not trying to persuade a reporter to consider my story via email, I’m picking up the phone and calling them. Sometimes it’s easier to reach them that way when they are bombarded by hundreds of emails a day. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll get an answer from them, even if it’s “no”.

As long as the day go according to my to-do list, I’ve crossed off a number of things and, if I’m lucky, landed some interest from a reporter to talk to a client.

I maintain that we are only as good as the coverage we secure; it’s our currency. If we’re not producing in that department, then what good are we?

Of course, I work with other clients who task us with producing content. Obviously we’re not driving coverage for them through that activity, so that becomes a different deliverable.

Before I know it, the day draws to a close and I start to compile a list of things I need to do the following day. I’ve been collecting them on various pieces of paper strewn about my desk. (See what I mean when I say I’d be stressed out if I didn’t write everything down in one place?)

Before I leave, I make one last check of my email, check Waze to see how bad the commute home will be, then leave the office. At this time of year, it’s light out a bit longer, which is nice. I hate leaving the office when it’s dark out.

***

That’s my day.

It’s nothing sexy, but it’s a high-level look at what I do. I suppose it’s not much different than what a public relations professional did in 1998 or 2008, albeit with more technology.

Maybe someday I’ll automate most of my tasks or the robots will have taken over.

But until then, I’ll stick to my dry erase markers and whiteboard to help me do my job.

Did you read anything that piqued your interest? Let me know in the comments and I can elaborate.

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

The Secret to Writing Great Press Releases

Here’s another secret I want to share before I write more words: the press release is not dead.

I could go on and on and on  (and on) about why those who say the press release is dead are merely doing it for the hot takes, but the joke’s on them – the press release’s eulogy has been given so often that it just falls on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, those who know how to use them continue to see great results.

But just because it’s not dead doesn’t mean you should immediately fire up your Word processor and pound one out for your client.

There are still ground rules to follow to ensure an effective press release.

Lucky for all three of my readers, I’m in a giving mood today, so here are some secrets to writing great press releases.

For The Love of God, Use It To Break News

The quickest way to earn a press release deletion is to publish one that includes no news and is used just to appease a client or boss.

Don’t do that. You’ll anger the reporter (your intended audience) and it will be relegated to the scrap heap. (Plus, it’s quite obvious to everyone when a press release is issued just to issue a press release.)

Think long and hard about what you are announcing before you start typing.

Is your company announcing how innovative it is? Skip the release.

Is your company proving its innovation by releasing a new widget that will help customers in the space? Now we’re talking.

Don’t write a press release just to write a press release.

You can use that time to work on other projects.

Wait until you have news that is worthy of a news release, then move ahead.

Make Quotes Meaningful

Every press release includes quotes from executives, but most of those quotes are fluff.

“We are very excited to…”

“We are pleased to…”

“Blah blah blah…”

To increase the chances of a reporter pulling one of the quotes and using it in a story, write something meaningful.

I like to draft quotes from my executives that announce something significant as part of the announcement.

For instance, if we go back to the innovative widget I talked about up above, the quote might read something like this:

“This new widget will allow our customers to cut down on lead time by fifty percent thanks to a state-of-the-art process that is exclusive to our company,” said executive.

This is an important part of the story and a big reason why a customer might decide to use your company’s widget. Not only are you expressing that to the customer, but you are setting yourself apart from your competitors, and your executive gets the credit.

Don’t Forget About Pictures

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how come we don’t think about a visual component to the press release more often?

We spend so much time getting the words right that the image (if there even is one) becomes an afterthought; something we just haphazardly attach to the release before it goes live.

But a lot of sites (like GM’s media site, for instance) make images the focal point of the news.

No press release on the GM media site goes out without an image, even if it’s just a headshot of an executive. These images, when used correctly, can go a long way in helping to explain the news to the media, especially when the news is built around something that is new or complicated.

Keep Your Target Audience In Mind 

You are writing for the media. Full stop.

Sure, your leadership team and some of your customers will see the press release on your website once it’s released. But the purpose of issuing this release is so that media will want to write a story about your company.

If you are writing it for another audience, you’re doing it wrong.

Once the internal edits start flying back-and-forth, it’s easy to focus on the wants of those who are making the news instead of those who will consume it. But you have to stay focused on the fact that media need, well, the facts.

Do your best to eliminate flowery language and anything else that takes away from the gist of the release. Stick to the inverted pyramid and your audience will thank you.

Think Of It As Content

Content: so hot right now.

Think of your press release as another piece of content you create to tell your company’s story.

Before you put it up on your media site, take some time to practice proper SEO. Once you’ve done that — and you learn to master SEO over time — your press releases will not only earn coverage, but they will act as a beacon on the web for those who are interested in what you have to say.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash