One of the primary goals of PR practitioners is to leverage relationships. Whether it’s with reporters, colleagues, vendors or spokespeople, our job is all about establishing relationships to ultimately gain exposure for our clients, but also to make us more effective at what we do. Besides, getting to know people is what we PR peeps thrive on anyway, right?
Through events, brainstorms and meetings we’re in constant contact with people, and it’s our job to make every conversation count. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason and that certain paths are meant to cross.
The following five tips will help you be a smart communicator, and ensure your name doesn’t get lost in the fray.
> Stay in the moment.
Be a good listener—it’s something you learn in kindergarten, and that’s because it’s really important. Pay attention to whom you’re talking to. A reporter will notice (and appreciate) if you remember and reference something he or she said from your previous conversations, even if it’s as simple as, “I know your daughter just got married. How was the big day?” And, dare I say, when you’re meeting with someone face-to-face, forget your phone. You heard me right. Once you get past the initial withdrawal, you’ll realize that your text messages and emails can wait, and that you can actually enjoy yourself more in meetings or events.
> Do your homework.
You know you’re going to be working with a specific reporter or celebrity. Well, you better know their latest story or project. It gives you a conversation starter, which can help you build rapport with ease and confidence. Go the extra mile and figure out what’s relevant and important to them. For instance, a food reporter won’t care about a celebrity story. Make sure you’re not wasting anyone’s time.
> Seize the opportunity.
I once met Barbara Walters at an event, and I asked her for one piece of advice for someone in the PR industry. Without hesitation she said, “Be the first one in the door, and the last one out. And be fearless.” Ms. Walters did more than a few things right in her career, so it’s advice I still hold close to> this day. Don’t be afraid to take risks or introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. You never know where the conversation can lead and how you might be able to connect again in the future.
> Say thanks.
No matter how busy you are, don’t forget to say “thanks” to a reporter, celeb or peer if they helped you out. It might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get carried away in your busy day. A hand-written note or a small token of thanks makes all the difference in today’s age of emailing.
> Just smile.
Sometimes it’s that simple. It can be one of the best techniques for effective communication, and can speak louder than any words. It can communicate friendliness and openness, which will engage the people around you. Flash those pearly whites because it can go a long way—and it makes you feel good too.