PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

Good Media Relations

Last week, I had the chance to listen to Lorri Rishar Jandron, president and CEO of Edge Partnerships. She is a PR practioner who used to work as a reporter, so she has a pretty solid grasp of media relations. She had some solid  tips I wanted to share:

  1. Be honest
  2. Know the subject
  3. Don’t speak off the record
  4. Accept media requests
  5. Stay focused, stay brief
  6. Answer the question you want to answer
  7. Stay cool
  8. It’s quality, not quantity
  9. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it
  10. When all else fails, return to #1

I feel that media relations is one of the most difficult parts of PR to teach. From my experience, I have seen that the best of kind of media relations occurs not on a cold call or when working down a huge list of contacts. It occurs over time through mutually beneficial relationships between PR practitioners and journalists. But how do you teach that in a classroom? And how do you teach good media relations through a 12-week internship? I think starting with the basics and learning as you go is the best kind of approach. Also, I like the Catching Flack blog – it has some pretty good media relations tips.

phone

As far as principles to remember, here’s what I’ve come up with: Good media relations starts with attitude. If you have a couple of reporters to call, make sure you don’t rush the calls and thoroughly review the material you’re pitching. Keep your cool and don’t get annoyed. Any position that requires a lot of phone time is really helpful in media relations and in your PR internship, especially a sales position.

After you figure out how to develop a good attitude, becoming an expert in the appropriate industry is important. Chances are, if you’re on the phone with the reporter talking about a news release, they will probably want information that’s not on the release. Keep up with the appropriate industry publications and news and you should be able to hold your own and answer questions. I also like to have a list of the key messages right next to me just in case.

One other thing to remember is the fact that newsrooms across the country are shrinking. Journlists are getting cut left and right, and beat reporters aren’t necessarily experts in that industry. Reporters like to say their deadline was yesterday (with pretty much everything they do), so they are extremely crunched for time. This is such a great opporutnity for PR practitioners to step in and help out, btu also keeping in mind what each media outlet sees as news. For more commentary on the shrinking newsroom, check out a post by Mike Cherenson on PRSAY.

During my internships, I had the chance to do a lot of media relations. I made some mistakes and had some shining moments, but I would never get on the phone and treat a journalist like crap. Too many times I’ve seen articles that talk about “dealing” with the media. Seriously, deal with the media? Lorri talked about this and how she will never say she “deals” with the media. They’re not stupid and they have their own job to do. Part of our job as PR practitioners is to work with them and help them with their job. By saying part of a job is to “deal” with the media, it’s pretty much demeaning their profession and that’s a bad attitude. PR folks work with the media, and it should be left as that.

For me, it brings up the question: are we being trained to hate the media? I don’t think so, but I think new student PR practitioners have a very unrealistic perception of what real media relations is. Getting solid experience in working with the media will help you prepare for a career in public relations.

What else? Sure, it’s easy for me to comment about media relations education, but what do you think is the best way to learn media relations? Any tips for students or new practitioners?

Photo by mezarc on Flickr.

Filed under: Professional Development, Public Relations, , , , , , , ,

Public Relations in 2009

I’ve seen a lot of posts going around about social media in 2009, specifically ones from Brian Solis, Shannon Paul and Todd Defren. Check them out – those are some pretty solid posts. So in anticipation of the new year, I wanted to write about what I think is going on in public relations in 2009 – challenges, obstacles, what’s working and what needs to change.

From my perspective, here are some of the buzzwords within the industry for 2009:

Diversity of the industry

I see diversity as more than solely differences in gender, race and ethnicity. To me, diversity is just different kinds of people. In public (or people) relations, it’s important to keep in mind that when you are reacing out to a large audience, chances are that audience will be very diverse. Learning how to reach out to different kinds of people is key to successful public relations outreach.

Another point of interest – I was listening to a recent PRSA diversity podcast and heard a great discussion on the future of diversity in public relations. I discovered that 90 percent of PRSSA members are female – HOLY COW. The industry is definitely dominated by females, but it seems as though this gender gap will only widen. While I have my own theories why this is happening (hint: some of my friends call me a party planner.. yuck), it’s something that the industry needs to pay attention to. Also,

You can check out the PRSA Diversity Today podcasts here. They are full of great information.

New standards in PR education

Because public relations is a constantly changing industry, PR education needs to be constantly changing, too. I’m lucky to have a solid curriculum at MSU – we have a strong balance of PR academics and PR professionals teaching courses that are generally relevant and topical.

I think combining theory with practical experience is the name of the game for successful PR education. Last semester, I took a journalism class on writing for the media. It was a really great class because touched on some history and communication models in addition to working on a press kit for a Lansing-based non-profit. It gave the students the opportunity to build their portfolio right in class.

public-relations

Is PR Social Media?

I’ll be honest – I don’t have an answer for you. And I don’t think that the answer is black or white. But I will say that knowledge and understanding of social media is becoming more and more important for the public relations student. It’s also becoming expected, too. One thing that us students sometimes forget is that we really do need to know the basics of PR, too. Solid writing skills, understanding business principles and office etiquette will still trump having 10,000 followers on Twitter – at least in 2009. We’ll see what 2010 has to offer.

Ethics for you and me

I think 2008 was a year of dishonesty and unethical behavior. Whether it’s the Madoff scandal or the Blagojevich drama or the Wall Street CEOs and their ridiculous bonuses; it hasn’t been a pretty year. I’m hopeful that corporations have learned to be honest, ethical and transparent – 2009 will be the year to show it. Now more then ever, public relations professionals are relied upon to build that trust. Mike Cherenson from PRSA talks about how important this will be for the professional in a PR Tactics article.

Advocacy for itself

Public relations professional often get tied up with client work that the industry often forgets to advocate for itself. We need to hold our colleagues and clients accountable to high ethical standards and make sure that the rest of the world knows we’re doing it.

The new wave of professionals

My fellow public relations students are tenacious, curious and dedicated. But as I previously mentioned, we need to remember the PR fundamentals, too. The future of the public relations industry, as I see it, balances old habits with new techniques. We can’t get too caught up in the blogosphere – we still have to go to class, right?

Call me an optimist, but I’m really excited for what 2009 has to offer the PR industry and PR professionals. While there are some challenges ahead, there is much to accomplish, too.

What else am I missing? Where do you see public relations going in 2009? Are you as optimistic as I am?

Photo by Rasso on Flickr.

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