PR pros, what are you thankful for?

This coming holiday should serve as a reminder to be grateful for what you’ve learned and pass your wisdom along. Here are decades of insights from more than a dozen PR and comms pros.

For many PR pros, keeping up with a continually evolving industry is no easy feat.

Creativity and effective teamwork are crucial to getting ahead—and keeping clients happy. Creating successful PR campaigns is rarely a one-person job. Because of that, comradery among team members is of utmost importance.

From the guidance of early mentorship to finding the perfect social media monitoring tool, a lot can be learned during a lengthy career in public relations. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here’s what seasoned PR pros say they are most thankful for:

“This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that we can prove our worth through data and analytics. In today’s digital era, PR metrics are becoming increasingly important. So much so, those who have figured them out outshine their competitors. I’m grateful this helps us have a seat at the executive table and to show how effective and efficient we are to every organization.”

Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich and author of Spin Sucks

“One of the most important helps I got in my earlier days in public relations was having bosses willing to be mentors for me. While mentorship is important in all professions, it was particularly key for me in making the transition from newspaper reporting and objective journalism to the advocacy role of public relations. Initially, I felt I was selling out, as many journalists did, going to the “‘dark side.’ But with the support and friendship of a strong female boss in my first PR agency position, I was able to not only become comfortable with my new role, but also use my journalistic background to tell client stories effectively and meaningfully. If younger PR professionals don’t have a mentorship program available to them, I strongly recommend they reach out to someone in their organizations who would be willing to provide counsel and professional development support.”

Marge Ferroli, principal, Ferroli Communications, a communications and media relations consultancy

“As a teen, I was introduced to the thinking of Epictetus. I’ve been grateful for the Stoics ever since, applying their core tenet (among others) to everything I do. The perspective you bring to bear on a situation or thought process ultimately determines the quality of that experience for you. It has served me well, especially given PR is about factoring in multiple perspectives in order to best build and manage reputations through relationships.”

— Robert White, founder of PR Matters

“I’m truly thankful for any editor that maintains some sort of Twitter presence. Most editors I reach out to respond quite favorably to a pitch that makes a personal connection, and this is much easier to do if you can check out a few of their latest tweets. It’s also a great space to maintain your relationship with an editor. If I listen to a song I think they’ll like, for instance, I’ll tweet a link to them. Editors are more than just gatekeepers in getting your content out there. Many of them appreciate your extra effort.”

Andrea Lehr, brand relationship strategist at Fractl

“The PR tool that I’m most thankful for is Hunter, a search engine that helps you see every email address associated with a domain name. It also spots patterns in email addresses, so even if the person you’re looking for isn’t listed, you can try and plug their name into the pattern—it’s worked for me on more than one occasion. I use it daily to pitch. It’s great for hunting down those hard-to-find contacts.”

— Mimi Hamid, account executive at the Bradford Group

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“Looking back on a busy and, at times, challenging year, I’m most thankful for working with programs that are making a difference. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible organizations that made an impact this year, including Toyota and the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus—both of which carried out massive campaigns in support of music education. Working with clients whose missions I believe in and support makes my job worth all the hard work and challenges.”

Ed James, president of CHQ Media LLC

“I am very grateful for the trust my clients place with me to generate the best candidates to meet their hiring needs. Recruiting is truly a partnership. We all need each other…hiring manager, recruiter and top-tier talent. When there is synergy, it feels like magic!”

— Lynn Hazan, president, Lynn Hazan & Associates

“As we approach Thanksgiving and the holidays, I’m especially thankful for a supportive community of PR and marketing professionals who are always giving back. Mentoring is the best way to share your industry experience with younger pros. You can help to shape ideas, aspirations and guide their career development. At the same time, you can learn by taking advantage of the reverse mentoring that occurs. I’m amazed at how quickly the mentoring tables can turn. I’ll be chatting with a young pro about her career path and the next thing I know she’s sharing what motivates millennials in the workplace and I’m taking notes. Regardless of who’s doing the mentoring, you should make it a two-way street. As you move into 2017, be sure to pay it forward.”

Deirdre Breakenridge is CEO of Pure Performance Communications

“I’m grateful to work with some amazing people and professionals who always challenge me to do more, learn more and be more. If I can give any advice, it would be this: Strive to work with the best. It will take your career to a new level.”

Corina Manea, chief community officer of Arment Dietrich and Spin Sucks

“This Thanksgiving season, I’m especially thankful for active and adept social networking media professionals. They give social-savvy PR pros new ways to engage and build relationships and offer contemporary ways to follow their coverage and gauge their interests. I make it a habit to connect and interact with the producers and reporters I work with online.”

Alexa Miller, senior account executive at Flackable

“I believe in being thankful all year ’round, and I’m obsessed with teaching my students to express their gratitude through old-fashioned thank-you notes. They should be hand-written, stamped and delivered by USPS, timely, thoughtful and specific. I encourage my students to find opportunities to say “thanks.” Whether someone took time to look at a résumé or have coffee right after an interview, personalized thank-you notes set the sender apart. I make thank-you notes part of a classroom exercise by distributing packets of Dollar Store notes [six for $1] when guest speakers come to talk. I try to model that behavior, too. In fact, there are three sitting on my desk right now headed toward the mailbox. My husband says PR people write thank-you notes for the thank-you notes they receive. How gracious and thankful is that?”

Jill Stewart, DePaul University, College of Communication, PR/Ad Program

“I’m becoming more and more appreciative of the diversity of our clients and their willingness to take risks. It makes our job a lot more interesting. I love the creative freedom to experiment with innovative content ideas and new promotional tactics. Having our clients trust our judgment and to take risks with new ideas for their brands is truly something to be thankful for in our line of work.”

— Ashley Carlisle, brand relations strategist, Fractl

“This year, I’m thankful for brands that have embraced the idea of customer-focused messaging—REI, Patagonia, Starbucks, Warby Parker, Duluth Trading Company and others. They helped set a precedent that sometimes the best marketing isn’t what delivers the best click-through or engagement rate, but what best addresses customers’ needs. PR pros have argued this for years, and thanks to brands like those, our marketing and advertising colleagues are finally understanding the long-term benefits of customer-focused branding instead of short-term marketing campaigns.”

—Steve Radick is vice president and director of public relations and content integration at Brunnerworks

What are you thankful for, Ragan readers?

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Topics: PR

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