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5 PR Tips for Newbies

So, I’ve been with Propllr for a few months now, and, while not  my first PR position, I'm hardly grizzled. My first position was working in-house for a small tech company where I had to take it on myself to learn PR best practices from blogs like O’Dywer, Ragan and PRnewswire. But there’s just nothing like gaining practical knowledge from experienced professionals.

Joining Propllr has been the baptism-by-fire PR education I’ve craved since graduation. Every day at Propllr is a lesson in public relations, and here are a few quick pointers for anyone looking to make PR work - from the junior agency exec to the startup founder:

1.    Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone

It sounds obvious, I know, but calling up busy reporters  can be intimidating. No one wants to get rejected, but calling people is often a necessity to stand out from the pack. While we always email first,  a well-time call only takes a minute, and is often the spark that's required to get your pitch moving forward. That said, recognize that reporters are incredibly time-starved, so don't waste their time: Be sure you can get to the "so what/who cares/what's in it for me" as quickly as possible.

Helpful tip: Always ask if they have a minute to talk before launching into your pitch.

2.    Keep reading

It’s critical to stay on top of all of the media outlets that can help you move the needle for sales, fundraising and recruitment. By thinking broadly - and getting outside your niche - you'll find new opportunities in outlets you would not have otherwise considered. Don't like reading? Then PR's not for you.

Helpful tip: Jumpstart your PR by looking at outlets that have covered your competitors - those ones are often the ones most likely to be interested in your story and most aware of the problems your product or service solves.

3.    Be ready for rejection

There are, conservatively, a million types of rejection in public relations. If you studied PR in college, you probably had project ideas rejected. If you've interned in PR, chances are you were given those impossible tasks - here, call 1,000 automotive industry blogs and pitch our new cat toy.  If you're a startup owner whose tried PR, you've probably stumbled out of the gate on more than one pitch only to get shot down.

Helpful tip: Think long-term with every reporter contact - don't think about selling your one small story today, think about building a relationship that will help you sell the feature story tomorrow.

4.    Know the outlet's audience

Writing for PR means wearing many different hats, stylistically speaking. You might write an article for a healthcare client about the increasing importance of EHR security in the morning, followed by a pitch to the producer of a local radio show for a segment on online education later that day. Effective communication requires writing in the style an audience is ready for and accustomed to.

Helpful tip: Keep a journal and try to write at least a page a day on whatever you want to - your experience at the coffee shop, how you'd improve your doctor's office, a movie review. It’ll put you in the habit of writing daily, and hopefully increase your confidence as a writer.

5.    Be patient

I’m not a patient person. It irks me when people don’t walk up escalators, and I endlessly roll my eyes at people who don’t know their order before reaching the coffeeshop counter. But PR is a sales job, and I'm learning to just be patient, because you can't rush the customer.

Helpful tip: If something out of your control is stressing you out take a non-smoking smoke break. What I mean is step outside for about 3-5 minutes and take some deep breaths. Leave your phone on your desk, too.