If you’re new to your role as a spokesperson or in leading public relations efforts for your organization, you’ve got a great opportunity. You get to “be dumb” to the very people that you’ll need to succeed in your role. So are you taking full advantage?
Here are some examples of what you can do as a “newbie” that veteran PR pros cannot.
If your new job includes pitching stories to TV news departments, you need to understand how TV news departments operate. Ask the station if you can hang out with them for a morning to learn how things work behind the scenes.
Spend a couple hours sitting with the assignment desk and see how many calls come in from PR folk trying to get their stories covered. See all the emails they skim through and the social media posts and tweets that they constantly monitor. Listen to the scanners in the background and the back-and-forth among the newsroom staff. I guarantee you that the respect you have for the assignment desk staff will increase, but you’ll also learn how to better share your story ideas and get covered.
You also should ask to sit in on the “morning meeting” where the decision makers assign the reporters and photographers to events in their daybook (calendar of potential stories). Listen to how they decide which story is most important that they need to cover. Understand why other stories get ignored or left off the list because the station simply didn’t have enough cameras to cover every worthy story.
In one morning you’ll learn more about how to get your story on TV than anything else you could do. It will also make the newsroom more reception to your future pitches. Not only because you now understand what they need, but because the assignment desk staff can put your face and personality with the voice over the phone or words in an email. It’s the ultimate tie-breaker when it’s your story versus another and it’s a toss-up over which to attend.
The idea also works for radio or print publications.
The next “newbie” opportunity you have is to talk to other peers and pros. When I first began as a PIO for an ambulance service, I reached out to several area municipality and fire department PIOs and asked if I could meet with them. I got some great insight and advice to help me in my new job.
And while you’re at it, are there any other industry peers you need an excuse to call and invite for coffee?
Here’s the part that will surprise you more than anything. If you’re willing to admit that you’re new to your job and ask someone else for help, they will quickly and gladly agree. People love talking about themselves and explaining what they do. So ask them to talk about themselves and explain what they do. Ask if they have any advice for you in your new job and ask them what they would do in your position. You won’t sound like a lightweight, you’ll sound like an up-and-comer.