Being an affective communicator is key to a PR practitioner, just as communication is a key stage in any PR campaign. In order to become a better communicator, it is important to practice.
So how should you practice?
- Be an active communicator online. Read blogs and be aware of what is going on over social media. Be sure to comment on things and look to comment back in order to maintain a conversation.
- Always have something to offer people. Be insightful and helpful.
- Be aware of what is going on in other industries.
- Have conversations with web experts to gain a better understanding of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO strategies can be used to improve the visibility of content you produce for the web.
- Take advantage of classes or seminars offered. Search online for any that may be happening in your area. Also, podcasts are a good alternative.
- Be a teacher–share your knowledge and experience. “In PR groups, speakers on the topics of social media, measurement, crisis communications, media relations and brand strategy are highly sought after” (Raschanda Hall). Doing so gives you the chance to practice your presentation skills and review the things that you have learned.
- Get to know some bloggers and learn from them.
- Make an effort to listen more closely (see previous post “Lousy Listeners“).
- Make sure your messaging is mobile friendly. This is very important to consider when you go about the communication stage of a PR campaign. Mobile marketing is the new way, and it is important to be on top of it. Download news apps and visit the mobile rendered pages of your favorite brands to see how they get the job done.
(Adapted from “10 ways to sharpen your communication skills“)
In our society people tend to know three things very well:
- what it means to be busy
- how to put the focus and attention on self
- the familiarity of constant noise.
This is why it is difficult for people to carry genuine conversation out. Being able to converse is a necessity to social development as well as growth in most fields of work. It requires being both active in speaking and listening. It is the latter of these that people often have difficulty with, yet that is what really makes a conversation significant. When someone comes to you with a need or concern, you have to be able to hear them out so you can respond properly and help.
Another tip for good listening is to clean your ears every day.
After reading the News U course Lousy Listeners, I was able to take a few key lessons away:
- If you are concerned about the person, then don’t be afraid to show it and voice it through posture, control of body movements, nodding your head, smiling (when appropriate), summarize well, and empathize.
- If someone approaches you wanting to talk and you do not have the time, kindly let them know and schedule a time that you can.
- Make sure that you understand what the person is saying. Probe for clarification. Put aside your own views and opinions to gain their perspective. Sum up what you are hearing them say.
- It’s important to set aside other tasks.
- Do not make the other person feel rushed. Also, be patient and slow to speak because our brains think quicker than the other person can speak.
A surprising piece of information to me was the “partier” profile–someone who invites lots of other people in while a person is trying to have a conversation with them.
I would like to know some specific questions that are always good to ask to draw out more information.
How do you avoid being a lousy listener?
When beginning a new career it is important to set yourself up for a good start. In any career it is important to set yourself up for success by going after the right environment for you to learn, grow, and get to know others. With this comes the question of whether a person should try to get their start in a PR department or a PR firm. Let’s examine the pros and cons of each.
Pros of working for a PR department:
- You gain a sense of pride and loyalty to a company or organization that comes as you work for it.
- You may feel greater pressure to perform your job well because it will affect the people you work with day in and day out in the company or organization. This will help you to be a better practitioner.
- You can work for a company or organization that you really believe in and help to make it even better over the long haul.
- There are generally good paying salaries, extensive health and insurance benefits, and widespread resources.
- There is the opportunity to work with a group of professional peers.
- There is job stability when you work for a PR department.
Pros of working for a PR firm:
- It can be fun and exciting always working with many different companies and organizations.
- You have to be sharp and always learning about how companies and organizations run. In other words, it keeps you on your toes.
- You are exposed to a variety of different clients and a breadth of different strategies.
- It gives you access to lots of experienced mentors in your field.
- It increases compradore in the field.
Cons of working for a PR department:
- There may be a laborious approval process before producing or disseminating information.
- Management may lack understanding of the PR function.
- There may be a lack of advancement opportunities.
- There may be little change in the routine of activities over time.
- Difficult to obtain without experience.
- Growth is limited.
Cons of working for a PR firm:
- There is pressure of working on several projects from different clients at one time.
- It is difficult to give every client your undivided attention as is often demanded.
- Many have less time off.
- Budgets can be limited.
- The salary could be low at entry level.
I personally would choose to get a start working for a PR firm so that I can be surrounded by many mentors and feel like I am able to learn all the different aspects of PR from the many different challenges that a firm is presented with and the many practitioners who have experience. After learning even more at a firm in a few years, I would try to work for an organization that I want to see succeed.