If you learn nothing else, know these things...
READ THE PAPER, WATCH THE NEWS.
I groaned when Professor Flournoy insisted upon this two years back in one of my primary CCPA classes. Now, my morning ritual consists of a cup of coffee and 30 minutes to an hour of reading online news publications, the Today Show in the background.
HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY.
It's obvious, I know, but I can't help but repeat this because it's not something I'd ever want to lose. I personally always want to be respected and thought of as a publicist of integrity and morals. Michael A. Burns of Michael A. Burns & Associates makes clear if you make a mistake, admit it and apologize, otherwise your client loses trust in you. You can call it honesty, transparency, ethics, CSR--whatever you want. They are all rooted in the same ground and they are all necessary. Reputations are worth taking the time to build, but remember they are easily destroyed.
WORK ON YOUR BRAND.
Before I handle someone else's image, I need to create my own. Denise Fernandez of the Julden Group shared excellent ideas regarding self-branding. My client needs to know what I represent and who I aim to be. When this is established, I can then work on their name and how the media views them.
Enough said. If you don't like to write, or you're not "good" at it--run the other way.
HAVE GOOD PRESS RELATIONS.
Create and maintain strong relationships with media people that relate to your clients. Have a thorough media list with your key contacts and keep up with them. Wayne Hickey of Weber Shandwick suggests sending an email or making a phone call ever so often to act as an information source or sounding board. Even if it doesn't mean getting your client press. Also, Hickey suggests avoiding "transactional relationships"--that is asking for favors without doing anything in return.
Although you "love" is a strong word, the internet and other developing forms for technology is crucial to succeeding in P.R. I can remember back in high school when a teacher asked me to email my homework in as an attachment--my heart started beating fast as I thought there was no way I could figure that out (and had little desire to learn). I've moved past that closed minded and eaily-intimidated mind set and started to embrace the technology culture, and the experts say you've got to. Blogging is a prime example of one of the emerging forms of technology being used as a communications (and learning) tool for the P.R. industry. Ms. Fernandez also professes the power of SMS messaging, or text messaging.
NETWORKING, NETWORKING & NETWORKING.
It sounds cliche and expected, but it is one of the most valuable public relations tools you can have, and it all comes from you. There are basic concepts to networking such as the "6 degrees of separation", "treat everyone respectfully" and "you never know who you're going to meet". Such widely accepted ideas are then applied to the act of networking--introducing yourself, having a business or calling card to give and receive, following up with someone and creating a mutually beneficial relationships.
Similar to Mr. Hickey's advice for media relationships, it is important to keep in touch with people you meet so you don't simply calling them for a favor when needed. Denise Fernandez suggested the use of networking websites to promt your connections--the sites allows you to visualize how many people you are connected to; it kind of solidifies the concept of networking. It's safe to say networking isn't going anywhere and can happen everywhere. As Pat Porter of the Dallas Business Committee for the Arts told our class, every elevator ride is a 30 second chance to introduce yourself, ask who they are and say what you do.