There is no shortage of resources to help PR pros be better and faster at their jobs. Want to be a stronger writer? There are tools for that (looking at you, Grammarly). Want to improve your public speaking skills? There’s no shortage of advice. Want to manage your time better? There’s an app for that.
While all of these will offer tangible growth opportunities (at least more than your usual self-help speaker), I’d like to focus on the one skill that has helped me become significantly faster in my PR role: keyboard commands.
Keyboard commands (also known as shortcuts or hotkeys) allow keyboard users to combine keys in a variety of ways to perform tasks more efficiently. Both Macs and PCs have similar commands, so this is applicable to both (but I’m going to focus on PCs for this exercise).
While these may not turn you into a pro gamer any time soon, here are the keyboard shortcuts that I’ve found most useful in my PR career:
CTRL F (search)
Have you ever felt the frustration of trying to find a reporter’s email address in a disorganized, un-alphabetized media list with 300+ people on it? Try, CTRL F.
Hold CTRL, then click “F” on a keyboard, and a search bar will appear on your monitor where you can search for the name of the person you’re trying to find. The search will then automatically redirect you to all the values that match that search, until you find what you need.
You can search by name, company, email, — really any keyword you need to find. This function will work in documents, web pages, PowerPoint decks and more.
CTRL F can be a real time saver and is an extremely effective way to quickly sift through data to find information quickly.
CTRL C & CTRL V (copy and paste)
In my opinion, the GOATS of all keyboard commands are CTRL C and CTRL V. CTRL C allows you to copy text from one area and CTRL V allows you to paste it elsewhere.
This can be a massive time-saver when it comes to pitching. If you’re trying to get the news out about your company’s recent funding round, you can quickly copy and paste text to send to different reporters who are relevant in the space. Granted, it’s still always a good idea to adjust your message to be relevant and personalized to reporters, but keep a watchful eye on font and format to make sure your message looks polished..
It’s also great for copying and pasting contacts from one media list to another, quickly sharing information, or building out decks.
If you prefer to cut text, rather than copy it, try CTRL X.
CTRL P (print)
Want to quickly print something? CTRL P is your keyboard command.
But wait, it can do more! CTRL P can also be used to save documents as PDFs (a far more environmentally conscious move in this digital era). This can be useful when a client wants to view an article that’s behind a paywall – simply print a PDF and send it to them via email or Slack.
CTRL Z (undo)
CTRL Z won’t be able to undo the email you accidentally sent (although Gmail has an undo feature), but it can be a useful way to reverse other errors.
CTRL Z is great for quickly undoing mistakes when you’re writing, and can be a real asset to article drafting, PowerPoint deck creation, communicating on internal channels, and more.
CTRL I (italicize) & CTRL B (bold) & CTRL U (underline)
The three horsemen of keyboard commands, CTRL I, CTRL B, and CTRL U allow you to adjust text quickly without having to find certain buttons to click.
Need to make some text italic or bold? Who has the time to manually move their mouse over to the italic button. What if you misclick? What if you injure yourself in a tragic mouse-related accident? Trust your keyboard.
An added bonus is that these functions have the benefit of allowing you to undo something that is bold, italicized, or underlined – just use the same function on selected text to switch back and forth.
Will these keyboard commands turn you into a pro gamer in time for the League of Legends tournament this year? Probably not. But they will make you faster, and more efficient in a career where the ability to work quickly is essential. The best PR pros can execute under pressure to meet time sensitive deadlines while avoiding critical mistakes – and for me, keyboard commands are the key (pun intended).
Keenan J. Emery is a senior account executive at Method Communications.