Add Another Feather to Your PR Hat This Thanksgiving

As we’re thawing the turkey and prepping the stuffing, we pause to honor the PR spirit of Thanksgiving! (We’re pretty sure community relations and a savvy dash of crisis management had a hand in that first feast.)

So we’re continuing the tradition with our Top 5 Media Relations Tips Inspired by Turkey Day.

turkey-1460850_12801. Build relationships: Whether around the New World campfires or Mom’s dinner table, Thanksgiving celebrates people coming together, sharing needs and gifts, and seeking new relationships. The same holds true for media relations. Connect with reporters and editors in a way that engages them for the long-run.

2. Get creative: The first settlers thought on their feet to survive. They looked for new opportunities and new ways of doing things–just like media relations pros do when crafting story ideas and pitches. 

3. Deliver delicious morsels: Reporters want the marshmallow-covered sweet potato dish … not the green bean casserole. Serve your stories with an extra helping of relevance, timeliness and local customization, and you’ll whet their appetite for more.

4. Think in courses: Placing one great story is like that first bite of cranberry sauce; you know there’s a lot more feast to come! Instead of petering out early, think like Grandma and plan several courses of outreach.

5. Never nap! While napping after too much turkey is a time-honored tradition (one we wholeheartedly support!), media pitching is another story. News doesn’t stop for tryptophan, and neither should your story ideas. Watch for ways to refresh and renew your media relations so it doesn’t grow tired.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

And if you need a media relations partner for the other 364 days of the year, we’re your pumpkin pie!

Making Employees Feel Appreciated

What do employees want from their employer? Sure, a decent paycheck, health insurance and vacation days are important. But the ABC Company provides these benefits, and so does the 123 Company. So what makes one company more appealing to employees than the other? It’s the little things that show employees they’re appreciated. When comparing one company to another, the company with a culture of appreciation usually wins.

There are many ways to show appreciation that don’t require much time, money or effort. Take for example a simple verbal acknowledgement for a job well done. As the CEO or manager, taking a moment to speak directly with your employee to acknowledge his or her work can make a huge impression on that employee. It shows him or her that you’ve taken notice of the employee’s work. Employees, especially millennials, want verbal acknowledgement and feedback, and this is one of the best ways to show appreciation.

A handwritten note or an email is also effective if you make it personal to the employee. “I really appreciate the work you did to clean up the database. It’s not a fun job, but our next mailing will be more efficient thanks to your efforts.”

Other ways to show your employees you appreciate them include:

  • Unexpected time off. Consider giving an employee or the whole office a few hours off once in a while. For example, the first nice warm weather day or an afternoon in December to do some holiday shopping.
  • Bringing in treats, coffee or lunch. Food is always a hit, especially in our own office.
  • Inviting employees to sit in on planning sessions.
  • Holding frequent state-of-the-company meetings to keep all employees appraised of what’s going on in the workplace.

For some employers, it’s a big deal if their employees simply show up each day, dressed appropriately and use the tools they have to connect with customers. Appreciating your employees for being part of the team is also worthy of an acknowledgement.

We recently helped a banking client develop and execute a brand recognition campaign. As the new brand was rolled out over a six-month period, so too were small, but impactful, ways to acknowledge and recognize employees. One month employees received pins to wear at work. The pin had the new slogan on it, and if a customer asked the employee what it meant, it gave the employee the opportunity to explain the new brand and interact with the customer. Another month, each employee received a branded pen. The next month each employee received recruiting cards he or she could personalize with their name and hand to prospective employees. Employees loved the cards and felt empowered to help find the next great job candidate. These cards were tied to a refreshed employee referral bonus. Employees were rewarded with candy bars in November with a message that said the company was “thankful” for them.

The immediate impact of this overall campaign resulted in a lower employee turnover rate. Employees felt like they had ownership in the company and knew they were appreciated. It was a win-win.

If you’re not already acknowledging your employees, consider putting together a small internal focus group to solicit input on ways to start recognizing employees. A little effort goes a long way to differentiate your company from the competitor, helping you recruit and retain the best employees. 

If you were CEO for the day, what would you do to show appreciation?

Changes along the Career Track

Most PR pros thrive on variety, new challenges, and the opportunity to learn and grow. Life at an agency (or corporate position) is rarely dull! And with that fast pace and constant change comes plenty of chances to move or shift positions.

Landing in a new role can be intimidating and exciting all at once. Here are some lessons I’ve picked up over the years:

Intern Level

  • Ask questions. A lot of them! Don’t assume you understand something fully, and don’t write based on those assumptions.
  • Pay attention to how the agency works in addition to how each client account works. This will help you develop a good eye for business and strategy along with PR.
  • Try everything! This is your chance to get a wide variety of experiences. Never done media relations? Go for it. Afraid of crisis communications? Seek out opportunities to assist the team anyway. You’ll find out what you like and don’t like, and develop a broad skillset to apply later on.
  • Nail the details. Remember those AP style and grammar rules from school? Those standard PR formats? Apply them and perfect them during your internships so they become second nature as you advance.

Entry Level

  • Find your time management solution. Yay, you’re official! For many, that means managing a full-time workload for the first time in their lives. Pay attention to time management and find the best solution that works for YOU to juggle your new tasks. Learning it now will serve you well into the future.
  • Seek out new projects. Let your team know you’re ready, willing and able to support new work or projects beyond your current scope. You’ll grow your skillset AND prove that you’re ready to take on more.

Account Management/Account Leader Level

  • Learn your team. Congrats! Chances are you’re now responsible for at least a couple other team members. That also means it’s your responsibility to mentor their development. Take time to understand the strengths, weaknesses and interest areas of each team member so you can delegate tasks appropriately and foster a great team dynamic!
  • Master communications subtleties. Now that you’re in the lead on a project or account, it’s even more important to make wise choices about HOW you communicate with clients and partners and WHEN. Each likely has his or her own unique communication preferences. It’s your job to learn them inside and out. It’s also a good time to grow in your ability to handle tricky situations, whether it be a crisis or a challenging budget conversation—watch how those more senior than you handle them and apply those lessons to your own approach.
  • Listen. By this point in your career, you know the basics. Some of your best learning will now come from listening to others—co-workers, clients, partners, competitors. See what they do, take notes, and apply it to your own daily work.

Senior Leadership Level

  • Become a strategy guru. Strategy gives you the ability to think one step ahead (or five!). It helps you connect each individual tactic to a larger business objective, anticipate curve balls, and guide your clients away from upcoming cliffs and toward opportunities. As a senior leader, you will differentiate yourself most on your ability to strategize. Learn from others, learn from books, learn by doing.
  • Try your hand at business development. At this level, there’s a good chance you’ll have a hand in the company’s growth strategy and its ability to seek new work. Be creative and strategic about suggesting new areas to pursue, and engage in efforts to expand the business’s visibility.
  • Grow your personal network. Beyond focusing on your company, focus on your role and skills in the industry or in the community. Make connections, seek board opportunities, or invest in a cause you love. This is a great time to focus on your personal brand as well as your career brand.