When I started my career in PR, at Beattie Communications, we faxed releases to journalists as a back up to an email, measured our coverage with a ruler, there were no smart phones, and social media, well facebook, was just getting a following. During my career I’ve worked on global and national brands, local independent SMEs, charities – both national and local, and in corporate communications. A lot has changed in this time with the decline of print media, rapid rise of social media, bloggers and influencers, and 24/7 news, but despite all that’s changed the essence of what’s important to me as a PR consultant remains the same.
Talking about people. I love to tell stories, people love to hear stories. Engaging with a client and bringing out theirs is what I enjoy most about my job. Then creatively bringing that story into the public domain. It’s why I enjoy working with family companies, and small independent businesses because there will always be a reason why, and the lessons they’ve learnt, and knowledge to pass down to others.
It’s vital that a PR consultant and a client are on the same page with respect and trust central to a successful relationship. A client needs to believe in the PR and let them lead the communications strategy; a PR needs to listen to the client. If key messages and values are aligned there will be no problem. I’ve worked on accounts that I didn’t believe in and I’ve worked on accounts that I feel passionate about. The latter was the more successful in client relationship and output of results.
If you deliver high quality and relevant content packages to journalists, and you’re good to work with they will want to work with you again and again. I started my career working on accounts for Specsavers and health campaigns for GlaxoSmithKline. Managing the PR for 40 stores and juggling case studies, celebrity ambassadors, event schedules, and national media gave me a brilliant grounding in this industry and a good knowledge for what journalists want.
A well thought out press release with supporting materials – case studies, images, spokespeople available, statistics, relevant context setting. I do not believe in PR for the sake of it. Journalists are incredibly busy and generally under-staffed and under-resourced. I see that it’s my job to support them, offer rich interesting content. I also like to take the time to get to know them – what deadline do they work to / what are their subject interests / how do they like to be sent their releases. An online reporter will work to a very different schedule to that of a magazine journalist. Keeping a log of conversations allows you to build up a personalised picture of each journalist and then you can tailor your content to meet that of their specifications. One size does not fit all. I also always say thank you for coverage. Sounds simple but so often forgotten.
Being professional to me isn’t about what I wear or the jargon I regurgitate, it’s not about the car I drive or the letters after my name. It comes back to how you conduct yourself, how you treat others, thinking ahead, and making sure you’re prepared and taking your work seriously. It’s respect for others time – clients, journalists, for anyone you come into contact with. While working as a PR you are representing those brands you work for.
Knowing your media and knowing your client – inside out. You should be the greatest ambassador for your client and have the respect to read journalists work before pitching to them.
Written by Kelly Morel
Cambridge PR & Communications consultancy