20 Things Every PR Pro Should Know How to Do

Do you have one foot on the PR banana peel? If you’re like me, part of you is in “the old world” of PR and the other foot is sliding into the new digital landscape. Excited, nervous, learning, kicking, and screaming.

Like a seamstress who tailors wedding gowns still knows how to sew a button, PR pros must remember the basics, too.

Allow the following 20 items and links to serve as reminders and resources:    

1. Grab a reporter or blogger’s attention with your words. Words wield power. Choose them carefully. Be relevant.   

2. Email a three-line pitch. Target your pitches and understand what each reporter is looking for. Sum up how your pitch/story will benefit their audience.   

 3. Use social media monitoring tools. Make use of Google alerts, trending topics, and other tools to keep an eye on hot issues, competition, and your own name.  


4. Pitch, arrange, and attend an interview for a client. Know the process from beginning to end. Hold your client’s hand as you prepare them for an interview you’ve arranged. Be there for them when they need you. Equally as important: Know when to step back and simply listen.  

 5. Stand up to a client or reporter in a firm yet polite way. Like your clients or managers, news pros can be testy, abrupt, and sometimes downright rude. Fair warning. 

 6. Generate valuable content on a regular basis. Identify forward trends and lessons that can benefit others.  Be a constant source of solid information that people trust and respect.  

 7. Coach your clients/C-suite on interview techniques.  Prep them prior to interviews so they feel comfortable with being on-camera or microphone. 

8. Train top management in crisis communications. Have a complete and current written plan in place, which includes training. 

9. Use a flip-cam. It’s important to know how to record a short interview or breaking news story, but it’s essential to know how to use technology to get it out to the masses. Think Twitter. News breaks there first. Know some basic editing, too.   

 10. Ask good questions. Quality questions bring you quality information. Get people thinking, feeling, and reacting. 

 11. Collaborate with others. Don’t view people in ancillary departments like marketing, advertising, branding, and HR as the enemy. Go for integration, not silos.  

 12. Utilize traditional and social press releases. I don’t see press releases going out of style anytime soon.    


13. Use keywords, links, and SEO to optimize press releases. Do your homework on keywords and search engine rankings that can make or break your web page, blog, and business.   


14. Decipher analytics. Understand measurement tools and what they mean to your overall strategy and daily activities (tactics).   

15. Listen to a speech, podcast, webinar, or press conference. Be able to pull out three sound bites from a five-minute presentation or 30-minute rant. This one skill alone will benefit you in public speaking, sales, business, and networking. Summarizing something complex with a punchy quote that brings out the essence of a conversation is priceless these days.  

16. Repurpose content. Reformatting and tweaking a press release, article, interview, or blog post will save you lots of time and energy.    

17. Build an online newsroom. Learn the elements of a quality online newsroom so journalists, bloggers, and others can trust you as a credible, engaging resource that has current information.  

 18. Create the subject line of an email pitch in less than eight words. Clarity rules. 

19. Follow chats, forums, and lists to build relationships with reporters and bloggers. It’s good to watch, hover, and observe online to learn personalities and styles before jumping in. Weave your way into a conversation without a pitch. That will come down the road. 


20. Write and upload a blog post. Be sure you can do this from beginning to end in less than 30 minutes.  That means without the help of tech support or a web weenie.    

I invite you to scan the archives of my blog to find more information on many of the topics listed above.

And, if you want to be an ace at communication, sign up for my free, 21-day video series, “Speaking of Communication.” Learn tips and strategies on PR, social media, blogging, branding, and more.


26 comment on “20 Things Every PR Pro Should Know How to Do
  1. There is a ton of great advice in this post. Thanks for putting all these resources together. And thank you for sharing our post! Glad you found it helpful.

    Nikki Stephan
    Identity Marketing & Public Relations

  2. Susan –
    Mary Ellen Miller did a great job with her video on how to be comfortable on camera. My clients balk at the idea of doing a video, so I asked Mary Ellen to be a guest vlogger and offer her expertise as a former anchorwoman. And who can’t use a tip for appearing slimmer on camera?

    You provide some incredible resources for PR pros and small biz owners alike who do their own PR. Thanks for putting this together. Google Analytics can be a huge time drain to figure out, so I appreciate the article as a resource.

  3. Susan, Thank you so much for including my guest vlog on Maria Peagler’s blog, Ten ways to feel comfortable on camera. I do so appreciate you including me in this excellent post for PR pro’s.

  4. “News pros can be testy, abrupt, and sometimes downright rude. Fair warning.”

    As a journalist, I’ve come across a share of testy, abrupt, and sometimes downright rude PR folks as well.

    I’d probably add a tip of keeping attitudes in check – you can easily destroy a relationship with a reporter, which is something you don’t want to do.

    Please don’t get angry with me or be overly pushy if I don’t respond to your pitch the way you want me to. If I say “No,” reformulate or move on – don’t get snippy.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      I’ve been on both sides- as a news reporter and PR pro. There are testy, abrupt people in both fields. Your point on maintaining good relationships without being snippy is critical.

      Thanks for your comments.


  5. Great list and resource for anyone in PR. I think #6 is currently the trend taking place. PR professionals are starting to produce and control the content from their clients and rely less on the media. Social media allows us to directly engage the consumer in meaningful and honest discussions like never before.

    1. Hi Trace,
      I love your point on produce and control content without relying on the media. Everyone has a press pass and is a news publisher today. Just curious as to why so few are taking advantage of this (brand journalism)?
      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      1. Exactly my point! We can’t rely on the fragmented media and their broken business models to cover everything new that happens, it’s physically and financially not possible.

        And you hit it right on the head, Brand Journalism or as I like to call it, PR Journalism, will be an emerging trend as we start to publish our own news. To clarify though, the press release should be more of a news release so that it is consumer facing and can be used for the media. Write the story that you want written about you (because it probably wont happen otherwise).

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