When you work in the PR industry, it helps to have good habits. Habits sound mundane, but they help us stay on track and meet our goals. Stephen Covey’s famous 7 Habits of Highly Successful People memorialized the idea that successful individuals maintain certain common habits, and the same is true for managers who excel in the art of public relations. Whether working in-house as a PR manager — with or without an outside PR agency — or otherwise, those who excel at their jobs seem to have these traits in common.
They are proactive. Taken straight from Covey’s first point, this is a foundational point in PR work. The skill that makes a PR manager most valuable is the ability to anticipate opportunities for one’s company or client before anything has happened. Rather than wait for news to break or new products to be launched, the proactive professional digs deep to come up with ways to tell the story of the company in every season.
They visualize the end goal in the beginning. Sometimes communications work can mean juggling a lot of intangibles, but good managers know how to visualize the goal they are working toward. For example, when crafting a story angle or pitch for media, it’s important to be able to see the final story — and your company or brand’s place in it — in the real world. Working with the end in mind helps develop the strategy and tactics needed to get there.
They read constantly. Public relations flows from knowing what’s current. The best PR managers are natural and voracious “media consumers.” It doesn’t matter how you choose to read, the apps and devices of today provide ample options to stay on top of myriad media. Constant reading has the added benefit of keeping writing skills sharp.
They think “win-win.” Much of good public relations is still earned media, and the very definition of earned media is that it’s not paid for. Why would any media willingly write a positive story for free? Because it’s a win for them, too. Good PR people frame the pitch as something valuable for the media — it’s not only about getting placements for your brand or company, the best PR teams provide an invaluable service to the media (and ultimately readers and viewers), so they come out a winner as well.
They are well organized. It’s impossible to run a successful PR program without impeccable organizational skills. The work is often non-linear (unlike, say, physically building something, or writing code) and can involve multiple people across multiple teams. Add in numerous types of resources, threads of conversation, and data points to consider — without a system that works it quickly goes off the rails.