6 ways to rise to the top of your PR department or agency

There are tried and true methods for getting ahead in any profession, but what are the metrics that measure the success of professional communicators?

There are a host of things you can do to distinguish yourself in the workplace.

Some have been frequently addressed (be the first one in the office and the last one to leave, etc.), but there are other steps you can take that are seldom discussed.

Here are six recommendations for things you can do, as a communicator, to earn distinction:

1. Support the brand.

As a communicator, you exist to support your organization’s brand. Ensuring a strong brand improves the likelihood that your organization can continue to raise critical funds to continue important work.

Written communications, digital media outreach and social media posts should all support the mission and vision of the organization. The decisions you make—which issues to weigh in on, what you post on the organization’s social media accounts, whether to respond to one media inquiry or another—should all be viewed from the lens of whether the action advances the brand.

2. Read the news with a sense of action.

For a communicator, reading the news is important, but insufficient. When you read or view the news, you should ask yourself “what opportunity does the article or TV segment you’re viewing present?”

The action could be:

· Sharing the article with journalists, colleagues or others who might be interested in the subject area

· Responding to the article with a letter to the editor or guest column

· Developing a policy solution to address the issue raised in a news report

· Researching the topic further

This will keep you and your organization one step ahead of competitors and increase your value to the organization by demonstrating your leadership skills. Once you come up with a possible action, share the idea with your colleagues and superiors and get their feedback.

3. Take initiative.

Ideas should flow from staff to management as well as from management on down. If the supervisor or manager is the only person generating ideas, the team is not working as effectively as it could.

Moreover, no single person wants sole responsibility for generating new ideas. Hiring managers and supervisors place a premium on initiative; the people who consistently come up with ideas for improving our work or sharing our message more effectively stand out.

4. Be responsive.

Communications is rarely a 9-to-5 job. While work and life balance is important, communicators shouldn’t completely tune out when they leave the office. On the weekends and in the evenings, you may want to sporadically check emails, social media accounts and voicemails to ensure you are responding to pressing matters and make yourself available should a crisis arise.

5. Be timely.

If you’re issuing a press statement in response to an issue in the news cycle, the statement should be drafted, edited and distributed within 2 hours. This increases the likelihood that your comments or commentary are included in news coverage.

For most issues, a press statement doesn’t have to be long (one page or less will do), but it should be punchy and direct. A short statement submitted within an hour of a major announcement is better than a long statement submitted hours later.

6. Be intentional about ensuring diverse viewpoints.

In fast-moving campaigns, it’s incredibly easy to move from one project to the other without evaluating whether you are benefitting from fresh and diverse viewpoints. When the unexpected happens, it can be tempting to rely on the same consultants you have used for years; after all, the consultants know your organization, meaning they can usually turn around projects with ease.

However, by limiting yourself to working with the same batch of vendors and consultants, you run the risk of not generating new ideas. Further, when hiring vendors or staff, if your networks aren’t diverse, chances are your vendor or candidate pool won’t be either.

Identifying vendors (before you need them) who have unique experiences (some of which are informed by their race and ethnicity) is a good way to ensure diverse perspectives. This can necessitate stepping out of your comfort zone and re-bidding a contract in order to make room for new ideas and new perspectives.

Jennifer R. Farmer is a strategic communicator, and author of “Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide.” A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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