I graduated with a diploma in public relations in 2012. Turns out a lot can happen over 5+ years. Like turning yourself into a dog with a protruding animated tongue and posting it for your followers to watch for a very specified amount of seconds. Come to think of it, I graduated just months after Snapchat was first launched and years before I would begin using it. 

While so much has changed, my industry has certainly kept up and has taken advantage of every new digital app or tool. This is great because there are so many different ways of telling stories. But this is also horrible because there are so many different ways of telling stories, increasing the possibility that your story will get lost. And to me, story-telling is at the heart of what PR people do. 

How do we have our stories heard? How do we keep a human tone when we have so many options for pre-written automation? 

Today I'm sharing five tips for working in PR today, here and now. 

1. Embrace digital but don't become a robot. 

I specifically work in healthcare public relations so this one has been easier for me than I'm sure for others who work in less direct human contact-based industries. Compassion is a word I've come to know and love. In every message we put out, every question we respond to, the communications team are thinking of the people we serve: the reason for being (raison d'ĂȘtre). I've learned to embrace digital tools like social media, apps, and software. However, within these tools, I try to remember that behind most screens, there are people. And people also like face-to-face meetings, phone calls and personalized messages. I've learned to focus on the social media channels that work best for us and to only use digital tools that are worth my time. I also connect with people in person whenever possible. 

2. There's no such thing as a social media guru.

This is more of a statement than a tip but hear me out. As someone who has managed my fair share of social media accounts, I have been called a 'social media guru' many a time. And every time it always felt inaccurate. Is anyone a social media guru??? 

The word guru generally means an expert or master. How can you be an expert at something that is constantly changing? Nobody really knows what the secret formula is. In my experience, there isn't one. 

Here's the deal. There are millions of social media accounts out there. And here's why there is no secret formula. Each account has a very specific number and variety of people who follow that account. You have to try new things and see how your specific audience relates and engages. Be real. Show pictures of your people doing cool things. If you have nothing particularly new or interesting to say, please don't post just to post. This is how your content quality goes down and people unfollow or scroll through. It's okay to go a day without posting. Your followers will probably thank you. 

I have also learned to not care about the numbers: the followers, etc. We live in a time when you can literally buy followers. What IS important is engagement. Are people liking, commenting and sharing your posts? That is the true measure of value. 

3. Be open to learning new skills.

Social media is constantly changing, even within the pre-existing channels. There are literally Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. headquarters of staff working all day improving their product and adding onto it as we speak. The only way to catch up is to keep an open mind and be willing to learn new things. With social media, comes the need to feed different types of content through to your followers. Things like creating graphics, videos, articles, and even live video, are all things I've had the pleasure of learning. 

4. Don't underestimate good writing.

Whether it's for a newsletter, video script, or tweet, good writing will always be one of the most important PR skills you can have. We all have incredible stories to tell and great writing does them justice. The title of your news release, article, video, etc., has huge influence over if it will get viewed or shared. I've learned that it's important to take the extra time to write well, thoroughly, and with no mistakes. 

5. Remember your basics. 

PR people are people-people. The human contact, social skills and hand written notes are at the heart of it. Connecting with people in a genuine way — whether it's in person, during a phone interview, with your coworkers, or through social media, personable contact is extremely important and strengthens everything you do. Be mindful of the public's perception of your organization and also mindful that you too are representative — to a certain degree — of your organization. Remember to slow down, smile, and make eye contact. Try to keep an outsiders' view and be aware of what people are saying. 


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