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

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!

Tips For Working Through The Holiday Blahs

Thanksgiving week not only commemorates the pilgrims’ grateful celebration with their Native American neighbors, it also marks the unofficial start of the winter holiday season in the U.S. (including Hanukkah this year).

In most cases, this is the week when U.S. businesses begin rewarding employees with early release days and extra time off to enjoy the festivities.

Not surprisingly, it’s expected that productivity will suffer a bit over the next 35 or so days. But, we do still have jobs to do and work that must get done. The challenge is finding the energy and drive to work when all you want to do is hit the holiday eggnog and cozy up by a crackling fire.

ToDoAs virtual workers and PR pros to boot, we know a thing or two about working smart, so we’ve compiled a few tips to help you stay productive through the holidays:

  • Just say no to big projects – contrary to popular belief, this is not the best time to start in on a big project, especially one that requires collaboration with your colleagues who may be less present than usual. If you really feel the need to get started, though, focus on getting organized. Identify the people, tools and time you’ll need to deliver the best result. Communicate your needs and deadlines to collaborators as soon as possible and build in extra time to account for the holiday schedule.
  •  Plan for time off – whether it’s your own holiday vacation or your colleagues’, it’s important to communicate and plan for coverage and contingencies (weather delays, sickness, etc.). If you need help with an assignment, give your coworkers plenty of notice and information to accomplish the task in your absence.
  • Focus on work – with retailers’ propensity to pre-announce Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals well in advance of the actual sale dates, it’s easy to get sidetracked at work. But limit holiday shopping to personal time and focus your work hours on work. The days will fly by, and you’ll be showrooming before you know it.
  • Stack small tasks – rather than tackling that big project, now’s a great time to attend to smaller, less time-consuming (yet still important) tasks, such as updating your databases or writing a blog post. Get after that stack of small tasks, and you’ll soon be feeling much more merry and productive.
  • Get organized – As the end of the year approaches, spend some time organizing your workspace for success. Clean out your inbox, organize your files, archive old emails, toss old magazines and unsubscribe from unread or irrelevant newsletters.

Don’t let the glow of the holiday lights lure you to the dark side. Stay focused, and make the most of the season to catch up (and perhaps even get ahead) amidst all the holiday cheer. Then in January, when your colleagues are complaining about how far behind they are, you can relax a bit, knowing you rang in 2014 with a fresh start, a clean slate and a great attitude!

Persuasive Picks for the week of 08/15/11

TomatoesA Tomato Lover’s Guide To B2B Social Media
Renegade CEO Drew Neisser creates a great metaphor between B2B Social Media and growing tomatoes in this entertaining read on Media Post‘s Marketing Daily blog.

Is Your Social Media Strategy Stalling Because You’re Not Doing This One Thing?
HubSpot’s Dan Zarrella shares some interesting stats and advice on boosting engagement of your content through clear and concise calls to action, in this guest post on CopyBlogger.com.

Can Social Media Improve Your Workers’ Productivity?
Contrary to the opinions of many corporate execs, social media can be leveraged to make employee time more productive and less of a time waster. Find out how via this Business Insider post from Ramon Ray & the Smallbiztechnology.com Team.

Take the Grunt Work Out of Monitoring Social Media with mBlast
Take a peek at Diana Huff‘s review of a pretty cool looking tool for taking care of your social media monitoring tasks. I’m definitely looking forward to kicking the tires on this one.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR
Personal Branding Expert Dan Schawbel interviews author David Meerman Scott about the release of the third edition of his best selling book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

Six Tips for Staying Productive During the Lazy Days of Summer

Beach ParadiseHere in New England, we’ve enjoyed an amazing stretch of summer weather and all the fun that comes with it. With summertime distractions beckoning, I’ll be the first to admit it’s sometimes a challenge to stay focused on my work. Fortunately, working in a virtual environment, the folks at PerkettPR pretty much have productivity down to a science. In fact, our team has been sharing their tips over on our Facebook page, and below we’ve compiled some tried and true suggestions to help you maintain focus, improve your productivity and find time to enjoy the dog days of summer.

  1. Manage your inbox – In the modern workplace, email has taken over as the primary mode of communication. Information is shared, requests are made, assignments are given, status is provided, notes are taken, and countless other workplace activities are all captured and managed via email.  Sure, there are numerous ways to search and filter email content to find what you need, but highly productive – and effective – people almost always practice the inbox-zero method.

    Here are five simple tips to reign in your inbox:

    • Group emails by discussion to organize and reduce the appearance of all those separate emails in your box.
    • Read email from the bottom up (older emails first) – and if you’ve grouped emails by discussion, you only need to read (and save) the most recent email, which includes the entire thread.
    • Take action on every email immediately upon reading it: file it, respond to it, flag it for future action, or delete it.
    • Create a filing system and use it. You can file by account, project or people. For me, it’s one for each account then subfolders for each program delivered for that account.
    • Aim for zero-inbox, but if you can’t get there, treat your inbox like an action list – only keep those items you are currently working on. Once they are completed – file or delete them.
  2. “Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure.“ – Benjamin Franklin
  3. Get up earlier – I am NOT a morning person. But, I have to say, when I do get up early, I almost always have a more productive day. Try setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier. If you can add 15 extra minutes to your mornings, I’m willing to bet money you’ll feel more energized, less stressed, and more productive.
  4. Take breaks – No matter how busy you are or how lengthy your to-do list, it’s important to give yourself a break. Your mind just doesn’t function effectively or efficiently when you’re tired. Take at least three short breaks a day.  We highly recommend taking every opportunity to get outside as well. Go for a short walk, eat lunch al fresco, make a coffee run, anything that gets you some fresh air and vitamin D will help break up the day and invigorate your body and mind.
  5. Limit distractions – We’re constantly juggling distractions at work: from people stopping by your desk to phone calls to incoming emails, IMs, Facebook notifications and more. Luckily, last month we featured a Q&A with Robert Strohmeyer author of PCWorld‘s Simply Business, a popular business productivity blog. In his role, Robert routinely researches and writes about productivity tools and techniques and tests them out himself. Robert shared his top productivity tips with us.
    “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer

    He notes that his biggest productivity killer is distractions. To combat this, he relies on the Pomodoro Technique, which requires the removal of all distractions (turn off IM & email, mute your phone, close the door) and total focus on one task or assignment for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. He then repeats this cycle throughout the day. I’d never heard of this technique before, but I’m intrigued. In fact, to develop this post, I’ve instituted the Pomodoro Technique and so far it’s working! ;-)

  6. Organize your tasks – One of my favorite tips comes from our own Jennifer Hellickson, a veritable productivity guru at PerkettPR. She suggests, “Chunk out like-minded tasks together. Set aside time to make calls, and do them all at once. Schedule times during the day to check your e-mail, update social media accounts and do other things like writing or research to avoid splintering your attention too much.” Simple and brilliant.
  7. Organize your day – I, and several of my colleagues, are Franklin Covey devotees, but even if you use a plain old notebook or generic planner to write down and prioritize your tasks, it’ll make a word of difference.  Especially in the agency world where reactionary activity is often the norm, you need a way to record and monitor your priorities to help you stay on track with your deliverables. Plus, once you write it down, you can achieve the simple, but uplifting sense of accomplishment every time you cross something off your list.

Regardless of seasonal distractions, maintaining a high degree of productivity is always a challenge. Try some of the tips above and let us know how they work out for you. Or, if you have a favorite tip we missed, please share it in the comments. I don’t know about you, but I need all the help I can get – there’s a hammock with my name on it out there!