10 ways to sharpen your communication skills

Start adopting these tips now—or use them as inspiration for 2013.


There is a buzz in the air during the final quarter of the year. In the PR community, it’s the nagging reminder to sit down and think about new business, budgets, cuts, and strategies for 2013.

The team at Business Wire is no different. We looked at our best practices to help empower you with 13 tips to make you a better communicator in 2013.

1. Commit to commenting. Stop being a social media voyeur. Be active by “liking” and commenting on posts you read. After all, the comments can be as interesting as the posts; many people read them and they’re a good way to make connections.

2. Give before you ask. No matter what service you provide, even the well-intentioned invitation can be seen as a demand for time, effort, and attention. Take this tip from Chris Sacca, advisor to some of the top social media companies, “If you’re insightful and helpful, people will want to be around you.”

3. Refine your elevator pitch. How? Practice, edit, repeat. If you pitch TV stations, you know assignment editors are willing to listen, but you’d better be able to get your point across fast. Call five assignment desks, and chances are, you’ll hone your pitch quickly.

4. Get involved with an industry organization.
Don’t just attend events—join a committee, serve on the board, or simply volunteer your time as you can. Be sure not to limit yourself to public relations and investor relations groups.

5. Have a discussion about search engine optimization (SEO) with your Web team, your wire vendors, and your content creators. In fact, have as many conversations as it takes for you to understand SEO basics and start using these strategies to improve the visibility of content you produce for the web.

6. Take a class or seminar. Many schools and professional societies offer continuing education classes at a low cost, and some even offer free sessions. Consider classes in photography, advanced Web technology, or Web design. You can even brush up with a business writing or grammar class.

7. Share your experiences. If you have no time to sit on a board or a committee, offer to speak at one of their programs on a topic you know matches the interests of their members. In PR groups, speakers on the topics of social media, measurement, crisis communications, media relations and brand strategy are highly sought after.

8. Invite a blogger out for coffee. If you don’t work with bloggers, meet up with an editor, producer, or member of the Twitteratti with whom you’d value having a relationship. Even if they can’t meet face to face, the check-in email is a nice gesture and way to keep a relationship top of mind even if you’ve moved on to cover new areas.

9. Be an active listener. Multi-tasking, while great in so many ways, contributes immensely to our eclipsed attention spans. Make an effort to listen more closely. Practice by playing a prerecorded webinar and not clicking away; or watching or listening to an on-air personality you don’t agree with and resisting the urge to turn away or blurt out. Just listen. If you improve your listening skills you might pick up the other half of what most people don’t hear when someone is speaking.

10. Immerse yourself in mobile. Mobile marketing is the future, but the future is today. To leverage this market for you and your clients, you need to use it. Download news apps and visit the mobile rendered pages of your favorite brands. Then make sure your own messaging is mobile friendly.

For three more ways to sharpen your communications, visit the Business Wired blog, where this story first appeared.

Raschanda Hall is the global media relations manager at Business Wire in Chicago.

Topics: PR

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