Do you have the skills you need to be your own publicist? Whether you’re a small business owner or you’re looking for a new job, you need to be able to effectively promote yourself to a target audience. Unfortunately, for many people, self-promotion does not come naturally.
Publicists wear many hats, and you need to feel comfortable in all of them in order to be your own publicist. That means you need to learn the skills required to be a PR pro, so you get the business or career development results you want and need.
Of course, an experienced public relations professional cannot be replaced with quick self-education, but if you don’t have the budget to hire a PR expert, review the 10 skills required to be your own publicist listed below and start honing them as soon as possible.
1. Communications Skills
The primary skill required of any publicist is the ability to effectively communicate with people in person as well as via phone and email. You need to learn to convey your messages succinctly and in a manner that is appropriate for the audience. Whether you’re calling a local newspaper or sending an email to one of the most popular websites, your publicity requests won’t get positive results if you aren’t an effective communicator.
2. Writing Skills
Public relations requires a lot of writing, and if you’re writing skills aren’t polished, your efforts will be wasted. You need to be able to write communications (as described in #1 above), copy, and content. Depending on your goals, gaining publicity could require the creation and distribution of press releases, expert articles, blog posts, interviews, speeches, ads, brochures, website copy, and more.
3. Outreach Skills
Much of a professional publicist’s time is taken up with outreach activities. For example, to generate publicity, you’ll need to be able to write an email message asking bloggers, journalists, and media professionals to cover your business, products, or services in their stories. If you’re promoting yourself in an effort to get a new job, you need to be able to effectively reach out to hiring managers, recruiters, and human resources managers.
4. Relationship Building Skills
Outreach is just the first step in publicity. You also need to hone your relationship building skills in order to take your outreach efforts to the next level. Sending a story pitch to an influential blogger is just a small piece of the PR-generating puzzle. You also need to reach out to key people at industry events, through social media (see #5 below), via email, through phone conversations, and so on to build relationships with them. People are far more likely to pay attention to your publicity pitches and act on them if you’ve taken the time to build relationships with them.
5. Social Media Skills
Social media skills are essential for anyone who wants to generate publicity. Learn how to use popular social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and blogs. Find your target audience members and online influencers who have the eyes and ears of your target audience within those communities and connect with them. Share their content, comment on their content, like their content, and get on their radar screens. Your PR pitches will have greater success if you’ve invested in making deep connections with people through social media first.
6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Skills
As you learned in #2 above, you need to be able to write online content to generate publicity for yourself. To get that content noticed, you can reach out to other people, share it via social media, and attempt to build direct traffic to it with the hope that other people will share it with their own audiences. However, you also need to write that content so people who are searching for content like yours through Google and other search engines can find it. In other words, you need to understand SEO basics and apply them to your content in order to maximize its reach and publicity potential.
7. Performance Tracking and Analysis Skills
If you can’t track your publicity efforts, you’ll have no way of knowing what’s working and what needs to be tweaked or abandoned. Therefore, you need to be able to track performance results and interpret web analytics data and social media metrics. For example, take some time to learn how use Google Analytics, so you can analyze the effectiveness of your online publicity campaigns.
8. Promotion Development Skills
There is more to generating publicity then sending pitches and press releases. You also need to create promotions to drive short-term results. For example, you might want to hold a contest on Facebook to increase buzz about your business online or you might get your business involved in a charitable event to generate positive publicity.
9. Sales Skills
You need to be able to sell your pitches and yourself to be your own publicist. When you’re trying to generate publicity, you’re often trying to sell a story to a journalist or media person so they’ll write or talk about it and help you spread the word about your brand or business (or yourself). Brush up on your sales skills and learn how to not only make initial contact but also how to follow-up on leads and opportunities effectively.
10. Speaking Skills
One of the best ways to generate publicity is through public speaking, but you won’t be able to land any speaking gigs if you’re a terrible public speaker. Furthermore, as your own publicist, you’re the person who will have to speak directly to the media in interviews. Polish your public speaking skills and learn how to create sound bytes that journalists love.