Artificial Intelligence: Not Replacing Writers Any Time Soon

As the lucky staff member who gets the honor of writing the first blog post of 2018, I took it upon myself to  write a post predicting some future trends. So here goes: While it’s true that artificial intelligence will be taking on more and more tasks as it gets more intelligent, content writers like me have nothing to worry about.

I say this because I just had my first underwhelming experience with online automated writing machines. According to a recent poll, nearly three out of four Americans, “are very or somewhat worried about a future where robots and computers are capable of performing many human jobs.” If three out of four are worried, maybe I should be worried too?

Hence the experiment: Write an article about “PR Trends for 2018” using an automated article content generator. A Google search for the term “online automated writing” generated a results page that listed the platform I used as the top choice, with the site description saying that the platform “makes article writing simple. Our technology creates unique, proofread high-quality content from scratch simulating a real human writer.” But it wasn’t so simple, it turned out. When I asked the generator to write me a story about “PR Trends for 2018,” I apparently had gone beyond the limits of its artificial intelligence; in response to my request, the site responded that I could get an article on either “PR Trends” or “Trends for 2018” (maybe you get the combined option in the premium version?). I chose PR trends – and here is what I got:

“It’s easy to keep on top of cultural trends that beam out at us from all media. How about public relations trends which might help your growth and development? These may be less accessible and tougher to master. Read on to discover the trends in public relations that can give you a head start. Paying attention and adjusting to PR and B2B marketing trends can help you in much the same way. Influencer marketing is an incredible strategy to add to your marketing plan. One of the latest public relations trends is the use of micro-influencers – those with audiences under 15,000 followers. While the size of an audience is an important factor in choosing a marketing influencer, don’t let it be the only factor. According to a joint report from the Association of National Advertisers and the USC Center for Public Relations, spending on PR is poised to change. More specifically, marketers plan to increase internal staffing and overall spending on public relations over the next five years. That is on account of the development of PR over the last decade, and the increased significance it’s had for marketers. Paul Roetzer, founder of The Marketing AI Institute, and general guru of all things AI, opened up about the future of AI in a recent interview with Hubspot. While an internal team, professionals in the field of PR can be beneficial to a business, public relations has many moving parts. When one survey asked about the future trends that will impact PR in the next five years, digital storytelling, social listening, and big data rose to the top of the list.”

It’s only after you get the generated article (which you have to share on Facebook to get access to, or otherwise pay for, sight unseen) that you get to actually read what they serve up – and then you discover that you are supposed to manually edit the article for style, grammar, etc. – not to mention paragraphs.

Back in the day, I used to do translations of Hebrew news stories for an English-language website, and the temptation to use Google Translate was very great – until I actually tried it a couple of times. It turned out that I could do the translation myself far more quickly (and with much better style) than it would take me to “upgrade” the Google Translate version of the story. Same here. And the sad thing is that as atrociously written as the generated content was, it was of the same standard of many articles and blog posts I see on many different sites.So in the end, I didn’t get a story about PR Trends for 2018 – but I did get to learn enough to safely predict where one trend is, or more precisely isn’t, going. I’m sure that artificial intelligence will at some point in the future be good enough to generate an article like this (sans the quoted part above, of course) – but 2018 ain’t the year that that is going to happen.

Excellence Creates its Own Weather

NMC Town Hall Session- graphic facilitation by Rachel Smith

This past weekend, I read a great profile of the American slalom skier Mikaela Shiffrin. While her story and rise to become a heavy favorite for multiple medals in the upcoming Winter Olympics was amazing, one line in the story really jumped out at me. In describing her once-in-a-generation talent and what has attracted legions of fans to pull for her each race, the author, Nick Paumgarter,  writes the following: “There’s something about transcendent talent that causes people to root for it, no matter their allegiances or their usual embrace of the underdog. Excellence creates its own weather.”

That last line is one I have never read before, and it’s fantastic. What Paumgarten is describing is that when someone achieves a certain level of excellence in a specific craft, he or she resets the rules of the game. Essentially, what he is saying is that excellence plays by its own rules. While he was discussing this in the framework of one individual’s achievements, this concept makes so much sense for any company – large or small – and it is something I spoke about with the GK team at this week’s meeting.

The great thing about excellence is that while it is not born overnight, it is something that is attainable. (Unfortunately, often times, individuals or managers confuse excellence with perfection – they are not the same and it is dangerous to think they are. Excellence, and maintaining excellence, is achievable, while perfection is damn-near impossible. One need not look any further than what the great John Wooden had to say about perfection to understand this).

The problem, or challenge, with being excellent is that often times, companies say they want to be excellent, but don’t understand or appreciate what it means, or what has to be done, to become excellent. The process of becoming excellent is much more important, and much more difficult, than actually being excellent. While maintaining excellence might be more stressful – and rewarding – the process of achieving excellence can be painful and often times, frustrating, leading many well-intentioned individuals or companies to drop their respective pursuits along the way, without arriving at their destination.

While excellence is defined as the quality of being outstanding or extremely good, when it comes to team success, a company is only as good as its weakest parts. To become excellent, a company must enable and encourage each employee to be excellent as well. The foundation for excellence begins with managers helping each team member see, understand and appreciate their respective roles and what impact they will have in the company’s success. Assigning – and reinforcing value – is critical, as it will not only encourage an employee to push harder, but it will give everyone a sense of accountability that a project/client/launch, etc. will not succeed without me.

The next step is to build an environment where every employee – from the most junior all the way to the top – feel that it is not only safe to take risks, but are encouraged to do so. Taking risks – whether it be pushing a different strategy, pitching a new angle or leading a meeting with a challenging client – is the best way for a team member to extend the boundaries of their presumed limitations. By pushing themselves to do something that they did not think they could do, employees will believe in themselves, will have more confidence and will continue to push the boundaries of their work – in quantity, quality and impact.

While the first two elements are conditional on the company helping ensure employees have a setting in which they can thrive, the last piece is on the individuals themselves, and it is simple: excellence is predicated on hard work. There is no substitute for hard work, and it is not possible to achieve excellence without it. The great ones make it look easy because of the time they put in perfecting their craft.

In our business, and in every business, those willing to not only go the extra mile, but to own the extra mile, are the ones who shine. In fact, the extra mile is a lonely place exactly because so few are willing to go there. Get there, make it yours and you will find excellence.

Telling The Same Story Different Ways: The Differences Between PR and Advertising

With every family reunion comes the inevitable stream of interrogative questioning (you know what I’m talking about). After the rib crushing hug, the questions begin: “When did you get so big? What are you doing now? Why don’t you call?” Before my recent college graduation, family members would always ask how school was going, and without fail follow up with, “remind me what you’re studying again?”

I was an advertising major with a focus in public relations. To most people, it almost sounds redundant- my family members certainly thought so. Truth is, when I started my studies I really didn’t think they were very dissimilar. Now that I have graduated, and have a year of professional experience under my belt, I can confidently answer that question.

While the two often go hand in hand, there are key differences between the two fields that are worth noting.

Paid vs Earned Media

Helen Woodward, the first female advertising executive in the US, famously said in 1938, “advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.” Pretty self explanatory. Put simply, advertising is paid media while PR is earned media. We use the term “earned media” as an attempt to measure monetary value for positive media coverage, whereas paid is face value. You know exactly what you’re getting with paid media, which is not as exciting in my opinion!

Controlled vs Uncontrolled media

When it comes to advertisements, you control the message and the placement. Everything is controlled by the agency/client. You pay for what you want and expect exactly that in return, even if that means you don’t necessarily receive that. When it comes to PR, you can pitch a story as many times as you want but at the end of the day, the publications are the ones in control of when, and if, the story runs. PR coverage is earned solely on the merits of the story, pitch and quality of the information.

Audience Perception

Think about when you’re reading a magazine or watching TV and up pops an ad, there is a certain degree of skepticism (and annoyance) that comes along with it. PR takes a less in-your-face approach, and focuses more on building a mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and the public. Companies rely on PR professionals to listen to the current conversations and determine the best way to add their voice to the conversation, often with the goal of positioning the CEO or other executives at the company as thought leaders or authorities in their given industries.

While both public relations and advertising are grounded in working with media to tell a certain story, there are distinct differences between the two that are important to acknowledge. I look forward to my next family reunion when I can refer my family members to this blog post…

Work Hard, Play Hard!

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education.”-  Martin Luther King, Jr.

The term education traditionally refers to what’s learned in the classroom. When I reflect on what education means to me- where I’ve learned to think critically and where the foundations of my character were laid – the classroom is not the image that comes to mind. Instead, it’s the fields and courts on which I’ve spent most of my life playing sports.

I’ve been fortunate enough to continue my athletic career as an adult and balance it with work. Over 8 years ago I completed my Masters degree and officially entered the workforce. Slowly, I came to the realization that sports prepared me for ‘real life’. Whatever skills I brought to the table were cultivated on the court or field as opposed to the classroom.

Here’s a small insight into how being an athlete has guided me in my professional life:

The Pursuit of the Myth of Perfection

There’s a fine line between pushing yourself to the max and chasing perfection. As an athlete you can get tricked into chasing perfection down the rabbit hole. You’re never satisfied because you can always be stronger, faster, work harder, be undefeated, etc.

At a certain point, you realize perfection doesn’t exist because a loss is always on the horizon, and truthfully, you learn more from one loss than an entire undefeated season. However, the will to push yourself to the limit never ceases.

It can be a similar cycle professionally, but once you accept that a loss or two along the way is inevitable it allows you to go after your goals fearlessly.

Pressure is just a word

Any athlete who says they don’t get butterflies before a game is a liar, and you need to call that s%&t out!

I hate the seconds leading up to a game! I want to throw up, I can actually hear my heart beating and I wonder why I’m doing this to myself. But then the game starts, adrenaline kicks in and I got this.

Pressure is just a word and shouldn’t paralyze you with fear. I don’t crumble, but rather through sports I’ve learned how to not fear pressure, but to leverage the energy it creates to my advantage.

Similarly, work is going to have stressful times, but I know that I can handle it because I’ve been exposed to similar situations and succeeded.

The Older the Better

Let’s call it like it is: in sports years, I’m ancient. But age is more than a number, it’s an indication of experience and how many years of training that I have behind me.

I know the game better and have out-trained my opponents. This works to my advantage because the majority of the time experience wins.

While in the professional world I still have a couple years to go until I’m considered ancient, I appreciate that with proper training, I can get better with age. That is something I fully embrace.

Self Analysis

You can’t improve as an athlete if you don’t take the time to internalize experiences and consistently analyze yourself. Every tournament, game and practice that I have ever participated in, I replay in my head (I still replay basketball games I played when I was 10).

You’re probably thinking, that sounds crazy and obsessive, and maybe it is. However, constant self analysis creates a self awareness and a better understanding of strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, the goal is to progress forward and you can’t improve without self reflection.

As an employee, I apply the same self analysis in order to constantly improve. If I get better, the team gets better, and as a company we succeed.

Perhaps one of the biggest lessons in sports is that you can never really be sure of the outcome. The results of a game are just as unpredictable as the results of a campaign or project. The one thing you can control is that you put in the time and effort to best prepare for victory. Also, you best be sure that  “All I do is Win” is on your pre-game/ pre-work playlist! Now get out there and get it.

 

Starting a Career in the Start-Up Nation

As an incoming junior at the University of Southern California majoring in Communication, experiential learning and research, study abroad and internships are highly encouraged. So, when I was offered the opportunity to intern at GK, it became clear that this summer I would have the chance to do all of those things and more.

For many, interning at a company in a foreign country– especially a country with a culture vastly different from that in the US — is extremely daunting. I expected to shadow various projects and assist with tedious, monotonous tasks generally assigned to interns. I never imagined how integrated I would become in the day-to-day of GKPR in the short month that I have been here.

In just 3 weeks, I have already had the opportunity to “live-tweet” from a major cybersecurity conference, write a blog for a tech company, participate in brainstorms and meetings with both new and old clients, and learn about public relations, media, tech and so much more in between.

From my first day, it was clear to me that the warm company culture was a huge part of what makes GK an amazing place to work. However, I also believe that the Israeli culture that surrounds us in our offices in WeWork Hazerem and throughout the “Start-Up Nation” is a main contributor to my overall experience.

One major difference is the casual environment. To any future American interns reading this, you should know that business casual really means “not shorts and a tank top.” But the effectiveness of this casual lifestyle transcends dress code. In my experience so far, it has created a sense of openness and welcoming, that has made me feel extremely comfortable in the office, encouraged me to ask more questions and learn more as a result.

Another difference I’ve noticed is that Israelis are not as caught up in the culture of internships that exists in the States. Nowadays, both small and large companies have designed specific and competitive programs meant to fast track students into the workforce. Here in Israel, the less formal setting has allowed me and my co-interns to smoothly integrate and truly feel like we are part of the team (I don’t know any other interns who share a desk with the Managing Director).

Often in the States, interns are only able to work directly with the intern supervisor or coordinator; however, GK’s office is structured in a way that fosters teamwork and collaboration across the entire company. Not only do I learn from the projects and project leaders that are assigned to me, but I can also participate and contribute to other topics in the office at any given time.

While Israeli culture certainly creates an apt environment for learning in general, it is even more beneficial when it comes to learning about the world of public relations. Getting ample coverage for clients requires a lot of persistence with different journalists and outlets; in Israel, persistence is a nice way to say chutzpah. A little chutzpah goes a long way, and there is no better place to learn it than here in Israel.

Overall, having any kind of international working experience is valuable in our hyper-connected society, but an internship in Israel helps break down common barriers that students encounter at a first job. It is important for millennials to understand and learn from different cultures and people in order to truly succeed in the workforce and beyond. While challenging at times, working in Israel has been an extremely positive experience, and I hope that many others take the opportunity to pursue similar internships. The key, though, is finding another company like GK 😉 .

 

5 Lessons My Kids Have Taught Me About PR

I recently came back to work after 4.5 months of (mostly paid) maternity leave, one of the many benefits of living in Israel! Although I cherish the time I spent with my newborn and toddler every day, it’s great to be back at work energized by all of the exciting developments taking place at GK and in the tech world in general.

I’ve learned some very valuable lessons from my children, and while on maternity leave, I started to think about how these lessons so obviously apply to my work as well.

So, here it goes…

Patience

Wow, have I learned patience! If my toddler moved any slower in the mornings, I’m certain gravity would start pulling him backwards. But, he’s learning how to do things for himself and it’s my responsibility to guide him in his discovery and assist when he gets stuck or has questions. When working with clients who don’t have previous experience partnering with PR firms, they don’t always understand immediately what goes into what we do which can lead to misunderstandings and skewed expectations. As PR professionals, it’s our job to be patient and work with our clients and allow them to see the whole picture, while securing the results they deserve.

Humor

The only thing I can do when my toddler is having a full on meltdown because he received his yogurt in a blue bowl instead of a red cup, and my newborn managed to soak her newly laundered outfit (and what little hair she has) in spit up when I’m running 10 minutes late to a meeting, is laugh. In general, having a sense of humor about life has been proven to benefit employees in the workplace – 91% of executives find humor to be imperative for career advancement. The world of PR can be tough sometimes – from angering journalists to disappointing clients to constantly having to produce great work on tight deadlines – and maintaining a sense of humor about it all is key.

Perseverance

For most of my life, I was the type of person who was always busy running from one thing to another. Many things came easy to me, so if something wasn’t going my way or was “too difficult”, I would usually drop it and quickly move on – gymnastics class (far too tall and uncoordinated…cartwheels are hard!), jazz band, pre-med, etc. Well, that doesn’t work with kids, and it doesn’t work with clients or journalists either. Our clients deserve ongoing media coverage that will help them tell their story and highlight their respective companies. The problem is, journalists say ‘no’ a lot. Although they don’t necessarily turn down a pitch because they find a company uninteresting, it’s hard to constantly hear rejection. Our job as PR professionals is to keep plugging away. Maybe this time was a ‘no’ but next time I’ll craft an even better pitch or find a creative way to reach out.

Creativity

Anyone who has spent time around kids or read a children’s book knows how creative little people can be. Their minds run free and are open to processing experiences in totally unique ways. Sadly, most of us lose that quality as we mature. I’m thankful that I work in a profession that allows me to maintain some level of creativity. PR done right is when you can meld the creative side of your personality with your professional side, resulting in pitches and ideas that have journalists (and clients) jumping for joy.  Make sure you retain your ability to be creative – it is a key piece in succeeding in our business.

Organization

A career in PR is much like raising children in that it’s not only hectic most of the time, but schedules and plans can quickly change. Working in PR is definitely not the 9-5 job so many people are used to. There’s constantly things being thrown your way requiring quick action and each day presents a whole slew of new challenges to overcome. To work in this type of environment and thrive, you better be organized. But, even the most organized PR veteran or parent can’t do anything (but sit back and laugh) when the best laid plans go completely off the rails.

PR, like parenting, is a tough but rewarding job. Thankfully, there’s always room to learn and improve. Big shout out to Zvi and Maayan (my kids) for teaching me so many valuable life lessons and pushing me to up my game at work every day.

The Importance of Cross Cultural Communication in PR

Effective cross-cultural communication is crucial for today’s globalized business community. This is especially true in the world of PR, where words can make or break the success of a company’s media outreach efforts. PR is a communication-driven profession that deals with people living in various countries with diverse cultures. It is important that PR professionals have the capacity to deal with their foreign counterparts and be able to implement successful PR campaigns that will appeal to those in their respective countries.

So, how can PR professionals train themselves to be culturally aware?

1. Familiarize Yourself with Other Cultures

Culture is a powerful factor that provides a foundation for which our worldviews are shaped. When people take on the challenge of working across borders, misunderstandings can arise, sometimes without knowing that culture is a central factor. There are six patterns in cultural differences that are important to keep in mind when communicating in PR. These include different communication styles, attitudes towards conflict, approaches to completing tasks, decision-making styles, attitudes towards disclosure, and approaches to knowing (epistemologies). Although all of these can play a factor in PR interactions, differences in communication can be particularly problematic as it is far more complicated than a simple language barrier, as use of phrases, non-verbal communication, norms of assertiveness, and sense of time also need to be taken into consideration.

By analyzing these behaviors we will be able to expect with reasonable accuracy how people will react to us and how we should approach them. Understanding the nuances and intricacies won’t happen overnight, however. After all, think about how long it takes us to be socialized in our own communities to know how to speak and interact with others? People study for years in order to truly understand the intricacies of culture However, the basics can be learned without committing to a PhD in the matter.

Recommendation: Organize a cross-cultural training with your office to teach the basic skills to communicate effectively across cultural barriers.

2. Be Aware of Your Own Culture

According to Edward T. Hall, an anthropologist and author of several international communication studies, culture is essentially hiding in plain site for those immersed in it, resulting in a lack of recognition. This can lead to miscommunication even if you’ve taken the time to study a foreign culture. Self evaluation of your identity is important as it results in increased awareness and flexibility in your interactions. Learning about others’ cultures can highlight the details of your own as well as challenge assumptions and  enlighten one to a variety of approaches.

Recommendation:

Self-awareness will serve you in every aspect of your life. In order to communicate more effectively, take the time to think about how your approach to others is affected by your cultural norms is and how it might be tricky for others to work with.

3. Patience

According to David Livermore, President at the Cultural Intelligence Center, the key to cross-cultural communication is patience – so simple that some of us tend to forget it. Patience is a lost art in our busy work cultures. In the age of instant gratification and technology, we have been trained to expect a certain pace when dealing with others. Patience is not a trait that has been fostered, and is a truly difficult skill to master, especially when confronted with deadlines and work pressure.  Nevertheless, patience is crucial in building business relations.

Recommendation: Take a deep breath and examine the circumstances again. Clear communication, clarification, and a sense of humor are your best friends here. Patience is not something you will learn overnight but rather is something that needs to be worked on. Assume that everyone is trying their best and that frustrations may be from an underlying cultural issue and not a lack of effort.

 

While there are many more steps required to become culturally aware, I hope this is a good beginning foundation. Of course, it can be dangerous to over-generalize as societies will always be full of exceptions and unique personalities, so consider these tips a helpful guideline rather than rules set in stone.

I would love to hear additional suggestions of what tactics you are trying at your own companies!

Using Content to Your Advantage

We take it for granted that others will see the genius in our creations. Spending whole days designing and workshopping a project, seeing all the great benefits it can have often has us “drinking the Kool-Aid.” Of course people are going to be interested in what we have to offer! How could they not want our product?! We expect a line of customers around the corner, and reporters knocking down our door for the privilege of writing a story…yet this is not realistic.

With such a low barrier to entry, the Internet has created a world where any and every business can enter into marketplace for a relatively low cost. There are more companies creating and innovating within every vertical of the marketplace today than ever before, and the resulting saturation makes attracting coverage that much more difficult.

While we all hope every press release and announcement will be met with great fanfare and receive positive coverage, often times this is not the case (especially for smaller companies). News outlets only have so many journalists, and journalists can handle only so many assignments. With so many potential companies vying for attention, and inboxes overflowing with pitches, journalists must restrict their time to only those they deem the most interesting.

Who Are You?

There was a time in the history of every company when nobody knew who they were; Microsoft didn’t simply open its doors and become a multi-billion dollar enterprise; Apple started as an upstart computer company in a garage. Before consumers can appreciate your company and become customers, they have to know about you. Besides actually using your product, your content is the main way consumers will interact with your company, and you must use this to your advantage. Content is the consumers’ window into your company; it presents a chance to tell your story, what you do, and explain why you and your product are different than your competitors.

Thought Leadership

For the most part, journalists, and their readers alike, are not interested in stories about companies following the pack; there’s no breaking news in repeating what’s already been said, and unlike mega brands like Microsoft or Apple (who have many reporters assigned specifically to cover their beats) most cannot count on coverage as fait accompli. Your content is an opportunity to show your expertise in the field, and establish yourself as one of the forward thinking minds in the industry even in the absence of mainstream media attention.

Making Your Own News

Sometimes companies need to manufacture their own stories. Just because journalists don’t want to publish what you are saying, does not mean it should go unsaid. Original content is your way of bringing relevant information to the market, and one of your most powerful tools for engaging the consumer base in new and different ways. It’s impossible to predict which blog, social media post, or article will go viral or attract attention and it’s important to give yourself the opportunity to succeed. Who knows you might even get a story out of it…

Ultimately, creating a strong brand is about building positive perception. Your product may be great but this is just one aspect of a business. You cannot begin a new venture and rest on the laurels of your success. Creating new and insightful content and demonstrating the innovation your company offers will create greater interest, leading to bigger opportunities from both consumers and journalists alike.

The Phone Line is Dead. PR in the Digital Age

Ring ring… Hello? Hell-no! While everyone you know probably owns a phone, when’s the last time you used your phone to actually call one of your friends/colleagues/acquaintances? For better or worse, and for reasons that I can’t even really communicate, I’m not the biggest fan of talking on the phone. But, thankfully, unless I’m catching up with my family or friends overseas, I don’t really need to use my phone for actual phone calls (sorry, Alexander Graham Bell). And, I’m also lucky enough to work in a field that may very well have deep roots in its connection to the old landline, but has moved away from the phone as its main mode of communication.

We’ve come a long way from traditional PR. In today’s ‘digital age’, it’s all done online. We are in touch with reporters via email, and aim to get our clients covered in online publications of top tier media outlets (and outlets that don’t even have a print edition) instead of print publications. But, while some (including myself) may breathe a sigh of relief that we no longer have to “smile and dial,” it’s not as easy as it might sound.

Here are a few tips for getting your message across without having to raise your “voice”:

Construct the perfect email subject line

When you call a journalist, you know who you are speaking with and that they are present in the conversation, and you can often get a pretty quick response. However, when you send an email, you don’t even know if they received it, let alone actually opened it. Your perfectly written email could just be floating around in cyberspace. People are bombarded with emails every day, so you have to put some effort into creating a catchy and relevant subject line to get your email opened (and hopefully read). Feel free to get creative, but don’t be deceptive (we all hate click bait) – what’s in the subject should be elaborated on in the email itself.

Keep it short and sweet

People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and, for better or worse, people rarely read an entire email, article or book word for word – we’ve mastered the art of skimming. Journalists don’t have time to read a novel of an email – get to the point, and do it quickly. Hopefully you have piqued their interest, and they will come to you for additional information.

Put social media to use

Many companies start Twitter and Facebook pages just for the sake of having them. However, they do not utilize them to their full potential. Social media creates a two-way communication channel, which, if used properly, can be extremely beneficial. For example, you can reach out to reporters, potential clients and influencers. Social media creates a somewhat informal platform even when dealing with more formal business matters.

While the internet isn’t a new phenomenon, it doesn’t mean that we know all of the ins and outs perfectly. However, the more we know, the more we can use it to our advantage. Like it or not, the phone is dead. It’s time for PR professionals to take their communications online to have the greatest effectiveness.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Career in PR

A high GPA, a fancy degree and lots of titles listed next to your name are the pieces needed to help you land you your dream job—or so was the now-outdated formula our parents’ generation was taught to follow. Struggling to land a job, millennials have learned the hard way that there is no better way to climb the corporate ladder than by having experience.

If what I needed was experience to move ahead with a career in communications, then experience is what I would get. Climbing my way into the “real world”, I found myself an internship and started learning the ins and outs of the PR world, beginning with the basics.

The five tips that I outlined below came as a result of paying my dues, starting out at the bottom and working my way up. These lessons weren’t part of my degree (and won’t be part of yours) and won’t be included in school textbooks.

  1. Your co-workers are your greatest resource, use them: Connect with your co-workers. You will learn more from these people than from anything else. Working as part of a team offers endless opportunities to learn from one another. It could be someone has a great article idea, a neat way of organizing their excel sheets, a great strategy for sifting through news or an eye for proofreading. The best secrets and shortcuts are hidden in those who you share an office with. Unlock them by connecting to those who you work with and ask them for help. Send a coworker a pitch to read over, perhaps a fresh set of eyes will view it in a completely different angle. Share an upcoming release, perhaps they know a journalist in that industry that would be interested as well. Don’t be shy or overly confident – your co-workers need you just as much as you need them. You have access to the best advice at the seat right next to you – make sure you use it!
  1. Relationships with journalists are key: Getting to know a journalist and the type of news or pitches he or she is interested in can take time to learn. Although many of your pitch emails will be ignored, there are tactics that can help you target your next pitch. Start by looking at topics and stories a journalist has recently covered. This will give you an idea of what type of a pitch will interest this journalist. Building a relationship with a journalist is a two-way street and can be the key to your success. You can start by checking in with a journalist and offering them assistance with any stories they are currently working on. Once they know that you are a resource for them and can offer them something that others cannot, not only will you go to them when you need a story, but they’ll start to come to you.
  1. Staying on top of the news is part of your job: You must be up-to-date on the news, specifically news that affects your clients. It is part of your job to follow any industry news that can impact your client. Whether the news has an announcement from one of your client’s competitors or will offer your client an opportunity to comment on a current event, it is up to you to ensure that your client is updated on anything that is relevant. Even when you’re not at work, the expectation is for you to keep your eyes and ears out for any relevant news throughout the day and night.
  1. Your job doesn’t end when you go home: PR is definitely not a 9-5 job that you leave at your desk in the office. There are times, take for example, right before a release is going out, where you can expect to have a few later nights. Although you don’t need to be glued to your phone, there will be instances where a call may be scheduled after work hours or an email must be dealt with immediately and not left until the following day. Many coverage opportunities are time sensitive – miss the rapidly changing news cycle and its too late to add your client’s voice to the story. As time goes on, you will learn what is urgent and what can wait until you are next in the office. What is most important is to let your clients know that you are handling it. Your client must know they can depend on you – and yes, that means showing them that you don’t leave your work at work.
  1. Public Relations is a multifaceted industry. Public Relations has various components – some of which are relevant for certain clients and some of which are not. The most common component is ensuring your client media coverage through garnering interest from local or international press, about anything from a funding round to a new partnership. Another component is positioning your client as an industry thought leader so that others view them as an expert in their field. Social media offers many platforms for your clients to engage with relevant users and audiences. One of the biggest challenges is aligning expectations with each client as those who have never worked with a PR firm may not be completely familiar with the strategies that can be offered.

PR is more than scheduling an analyst briefing with one of your clients or ensuring their press release gets coverage. We are telling a story. We are helping our clients find their voice and sharing something with the world that otherwise may not be as known. As with many industries, the key to finding success is hard work and increasing your knowledge, skill-set and experience. There are so many different parts of this job that I enjoy (that’s for another blogpost), and two years into my PR career, I can confidently say that while I have learned a tremendous amount, I still have a waaays to go. Come and join me on the journey!