How to succeed in PR: 5 tips

Read a lot, write more, and be curious are just a few ways to work your way up the public relations ladder.


I was trolling through Google Analytics the other day and found that several people came to my blog, Spin Sucks, by Googling “how to be successful in PR.”

Spin Sucks is the first listing in search rankings for that phrase, which is great! But it also isn’t.

You see, the post is more than two years old, and a guest author wrote it. Not that that’s bad. It isn’t. We love our guest bloggers.

But the post is more about how to be successful with media relations than overall public relations. And if the blog’s vision is to change the perception of the industry from that of spin doctors, we might need to own more than the first listing in search results for that phrase.

So, here are five ways you can be successful in PR. (By the way, trolling through your analytics to see how people are finding you is an excellent way to curb writer’s block. Not that I have it.)

1. Be curious.

I love to tell the story that when I started my career, my job was to make color copies of the clip books. It wasn’t that long ago, but back then color copiers took something like four minutes per page. It was horribly painful, and I had to change the toner at least twice every time I worked on this project. (I could have also been a copy repairman.)

What did I do with all that time? I read the articles.

I didn’t even realize doing so would help my career, but about six months in, I was sitting in on a meeting and the client asked a question that none of the senior professionals could answer. I shyly raised my hand—I was very shy back then—and answered it. It was all because I read those stupid articles-the ones the PR team had placed.

2. Read a lot.

One of my favorite questions to ask during interviews is, “What are you reading right now?” You’d be shocked at how many people say, “I don’t have time to read because I am so dedicated to my job.” They must think that’s the right answer, but they couldn’t be more wrong.

The more you read—and the more you read a lot of different things—the better writer you become. And the better writer you become, well, see No. 3.

3. Write more.

It’s no surprise content is taking over the world. A few years ago my dad said, “I’m surprised you decided to start a business. I always thought you’d write.” What he doesn’t realize is how much writing I do every day. Some of it is because it’s what I love, but some of it is because of where our industry is going.

If you don’t consistently write—as in daily—you won’t know how to write compelling, informational and valuable content for your customers. In fact, you’ll have no idea what they want because you’re not getting consistent feedback through your content.

4. Continue your education.

My business, Arment Dietrich, is at the point where we can either stay comfortable at the size we are, or I can get out of my own way so we can grow exponentially. Because I’d like to do the latter, I hired a leadership coach to help me. Just like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have coaches, it’s important for leaders to have them, as well.

Last week we talked about my goals, and I said I wanted to get my work hours down to 12 hours a day. He said, “What will you do with the extra 30 hours in your week?” At the time I didn’t have an answer, other than cook, ride my bike, and write more, which I already do.

Then I realized I really want to take some courses outside of my core expertise. I’m looking at Coursera to learn more about programming, developing and algorithms. You don’t have to take official courses like that, but if you read more (see No. 2) you’ll organically continue your education.

5. Network and get involved.

At some point in your career, particularly if you’re on the agency side, a boss will tell you part of your career growth includes business development. PR professionals,are not trained salespeople. Networking will save you. Suddenly the people you consider friends because you serve on boards with them (get involved with PRSA or IABC) will become your biggest allies in finding new business.

I’ll stop there because this list is getting long, though I could easily add:

  • Do a lot of research.
  • Understand how a business makes money.
  • Track your results to an organization’s goals.
  • Make friends in other departments. Figure out how their jobs complement yours.
  • Ask to job trade with a colleague.
  • Use social media so you understand the business nuances of it.
  • Write a book.
  • Focus.

Hmm. Maybe there is a second article in here.

What would you add to this list?

Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. and blogs at Spin Sucks, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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Topics: PR

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