Prowly #PRChat is where you can turn a couple of minutes into an informative and productive break from your day by discovering what representatives from different parts of our industry think about various topics.
Today it’s Michelle Garret, freelance writer and Digital PR consultant helping brands with just about every form of the written word that exists and quite a few of the spoken ones too. Follow her on Twitter for a constant stream of interesting “bet you didn’t know” news stories that will keep you sharp as a PR pro.
Here’s how she responded to our survey questions.
What’s the best advice you can give PR freelancers?
One of the most important things I’ve learned along my journey as a freelance PR professional is that choosing clients carefully can make such a difference. There’s a temptation, especially when you first start working for yourself, to take any and every gig that comes along. But learning to look closer before you say yes to a new client can save you a lot of stress. If you see red flags, don’t rush into anything. You’ll be happier and feel less stress if you choose clients wisely.
Is SEO knowledge essential for PR professionals?
I think at a basic level, it can be helpful. The problem is that the SEO advice differs depending on who you’re listening to. And it seems as though it’s always changing, as Google regularly updates its algorithm. So if you think you know how SEO works today, tomorrow it will be different.
What is a commonly held belief in public relations that you passionately disagree with?
That everyone needs to hire someone to do PR for them. While I do believe that every business would most likely benefit from public relations, not every business needs to hire an expensive agency or consultant to execute PR initiatives for them. There are a lot of things you can do on your own. If you’re consistent and keep going, you can make headway. If you have the budget to pay someone to help you, all the better. But if you don’t, there are plenty of resources to help you get started on your own.
What should every PR practitioner start doing?
They should start asking more questions. Why are we doing this? Who’s the audience for this? What is our goal with this effort? What are we trying to accomplish? Because if we don’t understand WHY we’re doing something, how can we be successful?
I think many times, PR pros get into a mode of just doing what they’re asked. I feel that you should at least try to have a conversation first before you just automatically write that press release, for example (and I say that as a fan of press releases – in SOME cases).
What’s one successful PR tactic you are using at the moment?
Twitter has been SO helpful in a lot of ways when it comes to media pitching. Media databases tend to be out of date at times, so I have a process now where I might start my research with a database, then check a publication’s site, then head over to Twitter to check the reporter’s bio and tweets before I pitch. That saves time and helps ensure you’re sending your pitch to a journalist who is actually working at the publication on the beat that you’re targeting.
While I’m looking at their Twitter bio, I’ll go ahead and follow them. Sometimes I follow them from my account and from the client’s account. I might read/like some of their tweets if they’re relevant to what I’m pitching. And, going even further, if they have open DMs, I might send a pitch that way.
What skills do you think PRs need to be successful long-term?
Writing. Writing is a BIG one. Because if someone can write clearly, it shows that they’re thinking. Strong writers stand out because there are so few of them.
I also think being able to present your ideas effectively and clearly – and get people on board – is important.
Then, there are all the digital skills that can be helpful. I personally don’t like that PR pros are now expected to be the photographer, the videographer, the analytics pro, etc., and so on – but it is how things are. Those skills can help you stand out and do your day-to-day work. You can’t be expected to be great at everything, but some knowledge of these areas can be helpful.
What trends are you seeing in PR that you’re excited about?
I think I’m excited to see more transparency. I’m all about PR as a trust builder, and so the more open companies can be, the better it is for their reputations. People value transparency – and we all understand now more than ever that trust couldn’t be more important. Building and maintaining a reputation as a trustworthy business can really help an organization stand out.
How do you go about tracking media coverage and measuring your PR efforts?
The first step in measuring is again to understand what it is you are measuring. It goes back to asking questions. I think a lot of PR pros are intimidated when they’re asked to measure results – but if they push back a little to understand WHAT it is they’re measuring, that can help them determine the best metrics to use. Also, PR should be considered as part of an overall effort. It can help move the needle but there is usually a larger effort or campaign taking place – so what does success look like for the overall effort?