Reality checked in with me recently when a few parents on my son’s rowing team, knowing my affiliation with PR News, asked me to write the press releases for the club. Sure, it’ll be easy, I thought, not factoring in a few key variables such as time constraints and more importantly that I knew very little (read: nothing) about the sport of rowing. But I know a good press release when I see one, and I’d have no problem writing one for PR News or one of the other brands in my group.
To say I struggled with the role of volunteer press release writer and media relations contact is an understatement. It’s all water under the bridge now – but it became the catalyst for this blog post. I began thinking of the difficult work that communicators like you do every day and the possible lack of appreciation for your trade. Hence, this epic list of daily obstacles faced by PR professionals. For communicators to gain more steam and prestige, it must chip away aggressively at these challenges:
- Being the signal in the noise – more is truly less, as breaking through with your messaging amid a cacophony of outlets is a top challenge for storytellers.
- Representing or defending the CEO – whether it’s high-profile like Uber’s Travis Kalanick or the head of a small, under-the-radar organization, PR carries the weight of a reputation crisis, often without a seat at the table.
- The news cycle really is 24/7 – it used to be a reference that applied to some but not all. Now, any communicator planning around a “typical work day” will pay the price.
- The pie is smaller and the slices thinner – it’s still a struggle to prove PR’s worth and to score a larger slice of the budget compared to counterparts in marketing, but as the lines blur between PR and Marketing and AVEs are buried, the slices could be more generous. Speaking of AVEs….
- Ad Value Equivalencies are still a thing - It’s not happy hour at the table of communicators if you’re not maligning AVEs and conjuring smarter ways to measure PR efforts. The conversation is worth having.
- Writing a good press release is hard – from the headline to the intro paragraph to all the multimedia you need to bake in, this old stand-by requires subject matter expertise and smart storytelling, not to mention the use of spellcheck.
- Directing your brand’s video efforts is suddenly a necessary skill– producing interesting and entertaining video, even if you’re directing one person to shoot it and another person to edit it – is no easy task.
- Understanding KPIs is essential– without agreement on key performance indicators, your goals will not line up with the C-suite. It's that simple.
- Your assets walk out the door every day and some of them cannot write – Managers will lament the writing skills of their staff and even get them training, but journalists in particular do not suffer poor PR writers very well and may actually ignore a good pitch if it’s riddled with typos and grammatical errors.
- Now, everyone comes to your press conference – Exhibit A may be Sean Spicer, but it’s never been more important to get in front of the media with your story and convey a compelling, consistent and honest message for all the world to see and hear, thanks to social media.
- Tweeting, posting, pinning, snapping, oh my! There’s an art and science to social media communications and while everyone’s doing it, few are doing it well. The smartest PR people are narrowing their social game to the platforms that matter most to their stakeholders.
- Employees are the front-line messengers of your brand – oftentimes PR does not have a direct line to employees, but your internal messaging equals your external. It all begins with fostering employee advocacy.
This list is by no means complete, though it is Epic. What would you add to it? Please chime in here and share on social under hashtag #epicPR.
-- Diane Schwartz