UNEXPECTEDLY finding ourselves in the world of PR and having to adopt a customer service attitude and wear a permanent smile was an exhausting chore at first.
Then about two years after “going to the dark side’’, we made a surprising realisation: forced positivity had actually made us more positive people.
Don’t get me wrong, comments like “the partner did it’’ and bet he jumped before he was pushed’’ still pepper news bulletins in our household, my handbag is clutched to my chest in public and I take a mental note of the exact time every time I see something odd in case the police need that information later. Healthy cynicism is important.
Too many bad things do happen everywhere around us, but the world really is a wonderful place filled with myriad interesting, generous and loving people.
Here’s some behaviours that make all the difference to your relationships whether you’re a journalist or PR:
MANNERS & COURTESY
I have always told my teenage son that he would never be noticed for his good manners and courtesy but he’d be memorable if he was ill-mannered and rude. I was wrong.
Well-mannered, respectful and charming, he has just started his first job. His recruitment manager told me he was chosen above dozens of others because of his charm and courtesy. In fact, he has also been offered jobs by the owner of a trendy restaurant and the GM of a five-star hotel purely on those attributes.
You may not answer the phone every time, but responding to phone, email and business-related social media messages promptly could mean the difference between a journalist or a PR making you their “go to’’ person and ringing your competitor.
“CAN DO” ATTITUDE
Clients and media come to us because they know we will deliver what we promise, when we promise and how we promise.
Ending a conversation or email with Not a problem’’, ``Of course’’, “Sure’’ or ``Will do’’ shows you are reliable, which will help cement your relationship and prospect of future work.
Coming up with solutions rather than problems will not only make you a more likeable person but boost your KPI achievements and outcomes.
ABOVE & BEYOND
I usually wrap up a media or a client correspondence with “Please let me know if there is anything else I can assist you with’’. Most of the time there is nothing further to do.
However sometimes, a few minutes later you might get an Actually, you wouldn’t have a picture of such-and-such, would you?’’ orI was going to ask next week, but while we’re emailing, could you write me a media release to go with my ad?’’. Win/win.
Making a quick phone call to inquire about an advertising package, sharing a social media post, putting a client forward for an interview with a journalist or shooting off a blurb for a client’s LinkedIn profile linking to your media release on their website is added value for them and kudos to you.
Don’t burn your bridges.
Remember when you switched radio stations jobs 15 years ago, only to discover the idiot producer you used to work with was now the executive producer?
The same happens in the PR world. Nightmare scenario: you phone a newsroom, only for an unmentionable from your past to answer the phone and you’ve got to convince her to carry your client’s story.
Think of smiling as a work out for your face.
Smiling when a difficult client or journalist is being prickly can actually feel satisfying. Besides, you know how they feel and would have done the same back in the day.
Do you agree? Can you add to this list?
Ellen and David Hill worked in traditional print media for 20 and 30 years respectively. In 2012 they unexpectedly found themselves “on the dark side” in PR. Today, they run a communications consultancy. When not crafting communications for high-end clients, they traipse the country in search of stories, usually in a grubby hatchback piled to the ceiling with gear, a lanky teenager and, sometimes, a pampered pet rabbit called Sophie.