We’re two weeks into 2016, and PR pros are undoubtedly busy tackling the new year’s new campaigns and deadlines. Despite long to-do lists, the year’s beginning is also the perfect time for young public relations practitioners to assess their current performance and make a plan for professional development over the coming months.
The ”start, stop, continue” model offers an excellent blueprint for teams and individuals looking to identify strengths, weaknesses and areas for growth. Consider a few places where new pros can apply these principles in the new year:
START getting serious about social media
Young PR pros aren’t shy to boast their social media savvy, but is your knowledge beneficial in a business setting? Touting a strong Twitter following or high Klout score is unlikely to impress employers unless you can demonstrate the industry relevance of your influence.
Begin the new year by taking action to prove your social capabilities. Learn the ins and outs of pitching via social networks. Proactively engage with a key contact in your industry or tweet a journalist to let them know you enjoyed reading a recent piece they wrote. In short, be sure you’re taking steps to leverage Twitter and other social platforms as powerful professional networking tools.
STOP pointing out problems without a solution in mind
Offering feedback to company leadership can be one of the smartest career moves in the life of a young pro – or one of the worst. New professionals are able to offer fresh perspectives and bring to light issues that others have missed, but these efforts can backfire. Calling out the faults in your workplace without offering a potential solution will quickly earn you a reputation for complaining, a toxic trait in the eyes of managers.
In 2016, stop pointing out problems without having an alternative to offer. Even if your feedback isn’t implemented, the desire to improve your team or organization will be recognized. Instead of being seen as a critic, you’ll earn a reputation as an innovator and an advocate for your company’s continued success.
CONTINUE making strategic connections
In an era defined by always-on communications networks and a rapidly changing media landscape, PR pros who know how to build productive relationships will continue to prove their worth and find success.
Emails, calls and social media messages vying for journalists’ attention make it difficult for them to give every correspondence their full attention, but resourceful public relations professionals can become an integral part of their network. However, this requires putting your immediate self-interest aside.
When you find a new journalist in your industry during the new year, introduce yourself and offer to meet for a few minutes (without pitching your client or company’s latest development in the next paragraph.) Take time to listen, ask questions and learn what they look for in a pitch. Then – and only then – offer opportunities for collaboration that may be a good fit.
When a journalist knows you respect their time and understand what they’re looking for, they’ll be receptive (even enthusiastic!) the next time they see your name in their inbox.
Of course, these are just a few things I’d like to start, stop, and continue this year. The list is far from complete, and this model can be applied widely to improve professional performance. What will your “start, stop, continue” list look like this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Derek Byrne is a New York-based public relations professional at Development Counsellors International and a 2015 graduate of Baylor University. Get in touch with Derek via LinkedIn or on Twitter (@Derek_Byrne).