10 Things PR People Should Do Every Workday

productivity

In keeping with the spirit of the New Year/new leaf theme for January,
we’ve been trying to harness the burst of resolution motivation to establish
habits that lead to better efficiency, productivity and effectiveness, both
personally and collectively, this year. And one source of inspiration was J.T.
O’Donnell’s article on LinkedIn about her approach to the “how do I get it
all done” conundrum.

As the time-pressed CEO of Careerealism Media, O’Donnell suggests that we limit our daily to-do list to 10 things, which includes a mix of job tasks, social chores and developmental goals. Now, before you ask – yes, she does more than these 10 items every day, but these, she says, are the 10 she chooses to do with consistency because they’ve proven the best way for her to grow her career and business over the years.

This, of course got us thinking, “What would the list look like for PR professionals?” Again, these aren’t the only things we think you should be doing each day, but rather a list of suggestions to help promote growth over the next 12 months. So see below for our ideas, and feel free to add your own two cents in the comments!

1. Scan the news. Take 10-15 minutes every morning to do this — and not only the top national news, but also the news in your company’s or clients’ industries. It’s a good way to stay on top of industry and competitive developments, not to mention it’s a necessity for identifying news jacking opportunities.

2. Make a to-do list. As every PR pro knows, ours is a reactive business, which means planned activities can get pushed aside easily. Stay organized and on track with daily task lists that keep you accountable to the proactive and maintenance items that often get overlooked in the heat of the (inevitable) times of crisis.

3. Contribute to the conversation. We’re talkin’ social media here, but the key is to keep it meaningful – not mindless. Find a handful of valuable articles, blog posts, infographics, etc. that pertain to your clients and their industries, the PR profession, or even just business in general, and share with your network.

4. Learn about a new tool or technology. This means not only familiarizing yourself with your clients’ products and services, but their competitors, as well. Got an interest in a particular area? Bone up on a new site, app, tool or technique, and teach your colleague so you can all be knowledgeable about what’s out there.

5. Connect…offline. Step away from the computer. Yes, cut the digital umbilical cord, and go grab a cup of coffee with a client, invite a reporter to happy hour, attend a local conference or try out a new network event. After all, business is about relationships, and you can’t keep connections as strong behind a keyboard.

6. Write. It’s probably the task that gets pushed off to the last minute because there are emails to answer, calls to make, and just about any other task seems more appealing than staring at a blank page with a blinking cursor. But flex the writing muscle, and it WILL get stronger.

7. Get momentum with media. Keep goals focused, actionable and realistic – then chip away at them each day. Start with a short list of six to eight media outlets that are a good match for your client, research contacts, get to know them, read their content, get creative with your pitches and connect with them accordingly.

8. Engage your clients. Ask questions that will help you understand their situation better. Make time to regularly check in with them to get to know how they think and feel, and encourage them to share observations regarding the progress of the project and your performance so you can course correct before it’s too late.

9. Make it measurable. Force yourself to develop and adhere to a method for tracking metrics. Not only does it allow you to create a benchmark for progress, but it also provides a means with which you can communicate those intangible successes to your clients. Just keep the process seamless, simple and straightforward.

10. Do stuff that inspires you. It sounds fluffy, but it’s arguably the most important: Allow yourself the space to get creative, let your mind wander and explore your imagination. It feels contrary to marching toward those business objectives, but granting yourself permission to dream is really when the best work happens.

 

Photo/Image by David Carpenter

Changing it up for 2014: Get Agile with New Year’s “Revolutions”

Well, we’re halfway through January (seriously, where did the time go?!), so there’s no better time to do a quick check in with yourself to see how those New Year’s resolutions are panning out. Have you been able to make any new habits stick, or are you still feeling like you’re stuck in the same rut from 2013?

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When we asked our staff the same question (for those of us who actually buy into the whole resolution thing), it became clear that being successful with these desired changes means less about going cold turkey, and more about committing to an ongoing process of overriding old habits and rewiring them with new patterns of behavior until something clicks.

Case in point:
-”My resolution is to be as organized and productive in my personal life as I am at work. I can’t say I’m knocking it out of the park, but I’m making progress. Although the fact the Patriots have been in the playoffs isn’t helping my cause at all since my husband’s participation is required to finish some of my home projects!”
-”This year I wanted to keep it simple, so my resolution was to walk the dogs each evening before dinner. Not only would it be good for all of us to get some fresh air, but it forces me step away from the computer for a few minutes. Our new routine lasted all of a few days, but at least we are getting out more often when we can.”
-”I resoluted to slow down and play with my kids more. It was going well until they got back to school, I went back to work, and they started all their activities. I need to have some sort of reminder to stay on track better.”

See a common theme here?

So did we, which got us thinking about our clients, particularly the Agile software development methods they use (for both product development and team management) and how much more fluid an iterative and incremental approach can be when it comes to making significant, sustained progress. As you know, Agile is a solution-oriented process that relies on adaptive planning and evolutionary processes, along with rapid and flexible response to change…so if it’s been proven successful in our business lives, it only makes sense that we could apply the same techniques in our personal lives, as well.

Enter what we like to call our New Year’s “Revolutions” for 2014.

Sure, we still need to keep an eye on the bigger picture (such as losing 10 pounds or seeing X increase in revenue), but you’ll get there more quickly if you create a list of actionable steps for the short-term, adjusting as you go along. Is something working – like a pitch that strikes a nerve with reporters, or a new way to remind yourself to stop and smell the roses with your kiddos? Then double down on those efforts to see bigger gains. Or is something not working – like an old press release format that’s lost traction, or dog leashes strewn about the house, so it takes you 15 minutes to find them before you lose all momentum to get outside? Then it’s time to switch things up, and try something new that removes the friction that’s preventing you from moving forward.

Respond to change – both positive and negative – and you’ll see results more quickly. See results, and you’ll no doubt be inspired to do more. The cycle slowly snowballs, and before you know it, you’ve got some major momentum to keep you going toward – and achieving – all of those goals.

Have you successfully added agility to your personal life? We’d love to hear more in the comments!

Our Favorite Things…for the Multi-Tasker

If you work in PR, chances are good that you’re a master multi-tasker. But even the best juggler needs a helping hand from time to time. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our favorite apps, gadgets and websites to help you streamline your act and even add to it without dropping a single ball.

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  • Mynd – it’s a calendar app, but breaks a very busy day down visually into very simple to consume blocks. So you know what’s next, who you’re meeting with and what tasks you have to get done. It can also sync with Waze so if you are traveling to a meeting it will tell you ahead of time if there is heavy traffic and you need to leave early.

 

  • I’m going “old school” with this one and recommending the original Amazon Kindle (at a very palatable $70). If you’re anything like me and amass a ridiculous amount of books on your “to-read” list, but never have enough time to get to them, the Kindle is your answer. Whether you’re in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, mid-commute or simply find yourself with a few minutes to spare, you can download all your books to one compact device & carry them with you to start chipping away at the pile. Get through your must-reads before they collect any more dust on those bookshelves!

 

  • Check app – I have it on my iPad and I can check my bank accounts balances for payments and deposits and I can also check on how my mutual funds and stocks are doing…all in one place with one touch.

 

  • iPad – or any good tablet that supports the same capabilities. I can access my email, view documents, update and monitor my social profiles, read books via Kindle or Nook apps, browse the web, manage my banking needs, shop, entertain my kids in line at the grocery store watching Paw Patrol (again), and countless other tasks and activities all in one place. It’s brilliant.

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  • I covet Yipit this time of year – it’s an aggregator for all the social selling apps, but in one place, so when online shopping, instead of scouring Groupon, LivingSocial, etc. for deals, Yipit sends me a daily list of all deals in one spot (they tweet them, too). Extremely helpful – I think it’s the best kept secret!

 

We know these are very few of the many time saving and time enriching tools out there. So, please share your favorites in the comments. The more we share, the more we all benefit. And this is the giving season after all.

 

Cheers!

Life Lessons From Mom That Also Apply to a Career in PR

For some of us, “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” still rings true. Play nice, share with others, don’t interrupt, work hard; the list goes on.

For me, a lot of the advice I call upon in my adult life revolves around what my parents taught me. I use their advice in parenting, how I treat my loved ones – both family and friends – and everything in between. Much of their advice I even apply to my career as a PR executive. In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share my thoughts, and those of my teammates, on how Mom’s early lessons stick with us and still help us in our careers today.

momWhen I was young, I struggled with math. Words always came much easier to me. As the daughter of two parents who worked for a national newspaper, you could say it was in the blood. How could I get through this math monkey on my back and change my perspective? My mother taught me that we all have to do things we don’t want to do. We all have to tackle the hard things. Part of life is this yin and yang of easy and hard. So with the assistance of kind teachers, patient parents, and most importantly a change in me, I switched my thinking and began to use the mantra, “I will not give up.” I heeded my mother’s tough advice. She didn’t have a ton of sympathy, but rather told me over and over, “Keep at it, be tough, and do not give up.”

I am no longer tackling Pi or the Pythagorean Theorem, or cringing after being called up to write on the blackboard in math class  - but each day as a PR professional, I am still faced with challenges that call for mental toughness and confidence. This is when the parts of my job that are harder and grittier than others call for my mom’s good old “don’t give up” mantra. This mantra makes for happy clients, solid journalistic relationships and a constant quest for me to deliver top results while striving to do better.

My PerkettPR colleagues shared what they’ve learned from their mothers as well. Here’s a collection of the awesome advice that they still carry with them in their PR careers.

From Christine Perkett

My mother taught me not to undervalue myself – which comes in handy when negotiating as both employer and vendor. My grandmother taught me that men are like street cars — a new one will always come along. I say the same is true clients – not that I don’t appreciate the ones we have (I so do!), but that they come and go and that losing one is not the end of the world.

 From Susan Sweenie:

My mom taught me that even when dealing with someone tough or not interested, just kill them with kindness. 

From Crystal Monahan:

I’ve had the privilege of having two moms in my life – my actual mom and my stepmother. Although different in innumerable ways, they both share one admirable trait that I have tried to emulate in my life and career. They both possess a remarkable work ethic. They work dawn to dusk if necessary. They have held multiple jobs to provide for their families. Nothing is beneath them – if it needs to get done, they do it. They both understand that nothing in life comes free and great pride comes from a job well done.

I’ve always tried to do my best and work my hardest, and have always appreciated the sense of accomplishment at seeing the results of my efforts whether it’s completing monthly status reports on time, writing a solid press release, or seeing my clients in the media.

Whenever I’m feeling lazy, I think about my two moms and I know they’ve probably already accomplished more in a day than many people do in a week, and I’m inspired to get back to work.

From Susie Dougherty:

“Mind your manners…” Something my mom was a stickler about, much to my benefit. I think most of us (well, maybe not as many as I’d like to think) grow up to be mindful of the simple words and gestures that help make us respected adults. But with today’s email and social media – suddenly a lot of those manners have gone out the window. Thanks to my mom for somehow making those words stick –even as the Internet has fundamentally changed in so many ways how we communicate. I’m still using my manners behind my laptop or iPhone or tablet screen – and I know that stands out to clients, reporters and even my own colleagues.”

From Jennifer Hellickson:

My mom’s a big proponent of the Golden Rule – treat others as you’d like to be treated – and this goes a long way in PR. Going that extra mile for both our clients and our colleagues in the media means trying to not only think from their perspective, but also anticipate their needs, as well. This creates a better working environment for everyone and ultimately allows us, as PR professionals, to better serve the company’s mission.

From Heather Bliss :

Mom taught me so many amazing lessons, but one of the most valuable was to be a good listener and problem solver. She has an uncanny ability to be able to listen to ANYONE, and I mean anyone. Whether it’s a family member, friend, colleague or a stranger on the park bench next to her — if they have a problem my mom has the time and patience to listen and to try and help solve it. I learned how to translate some small part of this gift of hers to my work in PR to really listen to clients and understand the issues they face and try to problem solve solutions as my mother would with quickness and calm.

And, fellow PerkettPR staff member (and new mom herself) agrees:

Johanna Lucia adds:

My Mom always taught me the importance of being a good listener. She helped instill this very powerful life skill in me, and when it comes to PR– we need to hear our clients. Listening to our clients’ wants and needs is a vital part of our role and in helping develop effective PR strategies.

What inspirational mom lessons can you share with us? Do you have a favorite piece of advice learned in childhood that still remains a part of your work habit today? Please share your stories in the comments.