2015 April

How to Communicate Effectively in Public Relations

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By Roxanne Ducas

Director of Communications

Producing effective communications is the primary focus of public relations professionals, who need to ensure that key messages are delivered accurately and in a format that is easily understood by target audiences.

Effective communication helps us better understand a person or situation and enables us to resolve differences, build trust and respect, and create environments where creative ideas can flourish. As simple as communication seems, much of what we try to communicate to others—and what others try to communicate to us—gets misinterpreted, which can cause conflict and frustration in the workplace.

By getting to know your audience, you can better connect with your internal colleagues and external clients, both face-to-face and electronically.

  • Internal verbal communications: Internal communications may be less formal than the communications you have with clients or people external to your organization. However, you must still pay attention to relevancy. You may communicate verbally with colleagues when you are face-to-face or on the phone, while giving instructions, asking or answering questions, negotiating and solving conflicts, delivering presentations, and even when leaving voicemails.
  • External verbal communications: Over time, you may get to know your clients very well and build a special rapport with them. However, it is best to remember that all client relationships should remain professional, communicating using a tone and language that is suitable for the workplace and ensuring written outputs conform to an accepted business framework. Effective communication in this context involves using memos, agendas and meeting summaries as vehicles to establish productive dialogue.
  • Email etiquette: In today’s world, most workplace communication takes place via email, whether with internal colleagues, clients or media contacts, and it pays to know and observe the basics rules of email etiquette. We all suffer from email overload, so bear in mind that yours is always going to be in a queue alongside others and will be read within the context of time pressure. Keep salutations brief, using an effective subject line and bullet points or breaks to separate your subject matter into manageable sections.
  • Telephone etiquette: In the public relations world, telephone work is your principal source of communication. A professional telephone manner is paramount to the way in which you are perceived. As a general rule, it pays to observe the courtesies you would expect yourself, so try not to be too casual. Preparation is important, since you often only have one chance to sell a pitch or develop a new contact. Journalists can be especially unforgiving towards PR practitioners who contact them on the phone and are then unable to follow through with a coherent story pitch. You often only get one chance, so rehearse the conversation in your head before going live.

Getting to the Point: How to Write an Effective Subject Line

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By Andrea Landau

Associate Publicist

 One of the first basic lessons you quickly learn when beginning a career in public relations is that reporters are extremely busy people. They are constantly trying to meet deadlines, coordinate interviews and stay on top of breaking news.

From the point of view of a public relations practitioner, it is important to communicate with journalists in a strategic way to ensure you are providing them with useful information in an efficient manner.

Once you have a well-crafted pitch and a targeted media list, it’s time to think about the next step before you hit send on your email: the subject line.

While I have never seen the email inbox of a reporter, I can only assume it is constantly full. The first part of a pitch that any reporter will see is your subject line, so what will make them take the time to open the email and keep reading versus hitting delete? Below are my tips for writing an effective subject line:

  • Keep it concise: Find a way to incorporate your message into as few words as possible. You want the reporter to be able to determine their interest in your pitch before having to read the rest of your email.
  • Model your subject line after a headline: Ask yourself, “If a reporter were to write a piece on my client, what would their headline be?” As readers of the news, we know that headlines are enticing, and your subject line should do the same for the journalist you are pitching.
  • Avoid spam words: Do you ever find yourself deleting emails you assume are spam before reading them? Chances are, journalists are doing the same. Avoid words that make your email come across as spam so that it won’t get deleted as quickly as it was received.
  • Make it relevant: If your pitch relates to breaking news or a recent trend taking the world by storm, include that in your subject line. You have already compiled a targeted media list of journalists who you know cover the topic, so now is your chance to make it known that you have information relevant to their coverage.

Chances are you have put a lot of thought and hard work into crafting the perfect pitch. It would be a disservice to both yourself and your client to let it get lost in the sea of a journalist’s inbox. By following the tips above, you can write an effective subject line that entices any journalist to keep reading.