Congratulations! Someone has trusted you to communicate their brand’s message to the world. You must have the education, experience and skills that convinced them you’re ready for this crucial role. Despite that, figuring out what to do on day one can be daunting. Here’s some advice from someone who has crossed that bridge before.
One of the first things you should do is identify the people who can help support your efforts. If you are working in an agency, this will include your supervisor and colleagues of course, but don’t forget to begin building relationships with people in other areas of the firm, such as your research or design organization. If you are working directly for a brand, you’ll want to reach out to members of the marketing, sales and product teams. These will be the people who feed your need for information and stories. In either case, you should develop collaborative relationships with everyone who can bolster your efforts as quickly as possible.
Get to Know the Customer
Yes, you’ll need to learn about the products, competitors, and market positioning of your brand or client, but first, focus on the customer. Look at what unifies the customer base. What common problems are they working to solve? Where and how do they consume information about industry challenges and trends? Too often new PR pros want to start with the media list or jump right into content development, but good messages, for both prospects and the press, start with the customer.
Begin to Build Industry Intelligence
If you are new to the industry, you must make the effort to become an expert. You’ll want to identify the influencers and thought leaders who have the ear of the audience in the space. It is important to understand industry trends and what is driving them. Knowing its history will help add context to your work. Industry research and monitoring will help you identify relevant publications, social networks and journalists who will be critical to success.
Check out the Competition
Begin by doing basic research on the companies with whom your brand or client competes. You need to understand what is unique about each and how they all get their messages to the market. You’ll also want to look closely at their PR artifacts. Knowing how they garner earned media provides insight into what might work for you. Seeing what types of content their audience finds engaging gives you a clue about where to begin. Competitive intelligence also makes it possible for you to position your brand as different and uniquely exciting.
Get a Benchmark and Set Goals
A common rookie mistake is to just start doing stuff. Trust us, you’ll do plenty of stuff, but you first need to get a baseline of each of the metrics you will use to measure your success. Look at each of the PR outcomes you are trying to achieve, such as increased website traffic, quicker sales cycles, more social media engagement, reputation improvement, and revenue. Document the current state and your reasonable goals in the next month, quarter and year. This will help you demonstrate your value and justify continued investment in public relations.
If this seems overwhelming, don’t panic. Technology is available to support each of these essential undertakings. If it isn’t in place in your organization already, consider requesting an investment in a solution that will get you off to a fast start and amplify your efforts as you learn and grow with the role. One last thing, try to hold on to the excitement and energy that you feel right now. You’ve entered a dynamic field in a moment full of opportunity. Well done and good luck!