Four of my best friends in the public relations business have recently started new jobs. Change can be exciting and challenging. No two public relations departments operate in the same manner, even if they have the same corporate parent. People and processes are different, and so are expectations. What flies in one office may not be acceptable in another. Regardless of the corporate culture, you can take some simple steps to help make the transition from one public relations job to another easier. Follow these steps, and you’ll better understand your job, the real expectations of your co-workers, and how you can improve your company’s public relations.
Get to Know Your Company
Sit down with management, walk the floor, and spend some time with customer service. You need to understand exactly how your business works in order to do your job properly. Every business has its own culture and that atmosphere inevitably affects how public relations attention is perceived internally. Some companies become demoralized by negative publicity, while others feel challenged to do better. Hopefully your client or company is the latter. If not, communicate internally what you’re going to do try to change any negative perceptions, and remind your co-workers that fame and infamy are fleeting.
Review the Publicity Your Company or Client Has Received
A thorough review of recent press coverage will help you understand how the media perceives your company. Start three piles of press clippings–positive, neutral and negative. Address the negative pile first by trying to figure out the source of the bad publicity and how the situation could have been handled better or avoided entirely. Move on to the neutral pile and figure out how the publicity could have instead turned out positively. Last, look at the positive publicity and figure out what went right and why.
Take a “Blank Slate” Approach
After you have reviewed your predecessor’s work, throw it in the trash. There’s a new sheriff in town. Even if your predecessor did an outstanding job, you need to be able to improve upon his or her work. Strategizing to fit your unique skill set is essential.
Begin Addressing Issues
Whenever starting new job, inventory the position’s assets and then try to improve them, add to them, or dump them. Does your CEO stiffen up when he or she’s on television? You’ll know this after reviewing the recent press, and you’ll know that he or she may need some media training. Are you spending too much to issue press releases? Do you have the type of media monitoring services you need? Is your staff competent?
Reach Out to Key Beat Reporters
Schedule calls or face-to-face meetings with the reporters who cover your business or client on a daily basis. Establishing contact with these reporters is imperative because, as the new guy or gal, you enter the picture with less leverage in the relationship. Face-to-face meetings are best because you are given an opportunity to humanize yourself and break through the traditional distrust between public relations departments and journalists.
Throughout the entire process of integrating yourself into your new job or with your new client, you should be communicating with your day-to-day contacts. Keep them informed about changes you are making and why you are making them. By keeping the lines of communication open, you can solidify your control over a new situation.
This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.