By: Kate Walter
For the past year, the Public Relations Society of America has been engaged in an effort to modernize the definition of public relations. Through opinion polls and other research the organization officially updated the definition to read, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Although building and facilitating long-term relationships is the ultimate goal for a business to achieve their bottom line interests, many organizations ask, “How do I accomplish this?”
There are numerous strategies and tactics for relationship building – one of the mostwidespread and effective is networking. Despite the importance of social media, advertising, branding, etc. there is still the underlying, old school method of face time. If someone likes your business outlook or your personality, then most often they will want to know more about your product or service. Of course, the next question becomes, “How do I network effectively?” Although there are many schools of thought on this, I believe individuals should take their cue from public relations and consider the PRSA definition of mutually beneficial relationships. Therefore, the core foundation of effective networking should focus more on relationship building than on networking for networking sake.
For example, we have all been to those after hour meetings where you enter a room of 200 people and are immediately accosted by someone who flings their business card at you, tells you briefly about what they do and then saunters off after their next victim. This person is on a mission. They feel that they must hand out as many business cards as possible, because quantity over quality is what counts. However, if you were on the receiving end of this onslaught, most likely you will never remember this person and/or will never use their product or service.
There are always exceptions, but taking the time to talk to someone, to truly listen and engage in conversation is invaluable. Instead of spreading yourself thin, focus on one or two people at each meeting whom you have not spoken to before. You will be remembered and others will talk about how you took the time to get to know them and word will spread. The person you speak with may become a client. He may refer business to you. She may serve as your word-of-mouth marketing team. He or she might become one of your closest friends. Leave yourself open to possibilities and don’t focus solely on your destination. Focus instead on building lasting and rewarding relationships.
By: Kate Walter
News Releases. Such a simple task can seem daunting when faced with so many pieces to make the puzzle come together. I was always the “A” student in English class. The one who read every required reading book and would rather have written a ten-page paper than take a multiple-choice exam. However, even I have to admit there is a learning curve for writing in the field of public relations. You are faced with AP stylebooks, word limits and writing for various media like print, online and social networking sites. Many times you are writing about an industry or a product that you weren’t familiar with 20 minutes ago. And in the end the information has to be accurate, newsworthy, unique or informative (or both), and ideally further the branding of your client. So where to start?
I recently read an article in Tactics, the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) monthly newsletter that discussed common mistakes in writing news releases and how to fix them. I liked the article so much, that I not only saved it, but I’m going to share the advice.
- Think in terms of audience benefits- Essentially, why should readers/consumers/publics care about your bit of news. Your news release should be answering the question, “What’s in it for me?”
- Focus on the news- Don’t let your news release sound like a commercial for your product, event or accomplishment.
- Cover the basics- Include the who, what, why, where and how. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to include this in the lead.
- Keep your message clear and readable- Try not to use abbreviations, corporate buzzwords, industry jargon or too many technical details. Remember you are writing a news release to be submitted to the general public.
- Don’t use lame quotes- Instead of making the quote client-centric, make it customer-oriented, punchy and interesting. Use the quote to add perspective, meaning and color to the news release.
- Use keywords- Keywords are crucial when it comes to search engine optimization so make sure that you include them throughout the news release.
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