4 Timeless PR Skills New Pros Shouldn't Forget

March 3, 2017


In today’s fast-paced and content-filled world, it can be ever-so-easy to fall into the trap of jumping from article to article, website to website or — if you’re like me — from internet browsing tab to internet browsing tab.

As new professionals, we’re often tasked to come up with the “innovative new way to promote Campaign X”. When you work in public relations, the allure of shiny-object syndrome can be detrimental to client or organizational success if you don’t remember to swim in the same current as the rest of the strategies and tactics.

New pros face the challenge of being innovative against the need to remain strategic and purposeful. While this isn’t a new challenge to the field of communications, the fast-paced, digital world puts millennials in a tough place when the pressure to be digitally native could push us farther away from staying grounded in the fundamentals of public relations.

The solution? Know where we came from and look ahead to where we’re going.

These four timeless PR skills are some we new pros should never forget:

1. Picking up the phone

In an era of email overload — this could be an entire series itself — it may feel natural for new pros to communicate through text messages, emails and GIFs. But, let me tell you: If you’re not forced to pick up the phone from time to time, then you’re forming a terrible habit.

Emails lose inflection, misconstrue intent and can seriously stunt client/co-worker relationships when people solely rely on them. If you could easily handle something through a two-minute phone call, then do that instead of clogging someone’s inbox with an unnecessary 12-message chain of “Thanks!” and “Best, Phillip.”

2. Being authentic

With vanity metrics, selfies and well-curated “Insta” feeds running rampant, today’s society leaves much room for authenticity. The workplace isn’t an exception.

A willingness to admit that we new pros don’t have all the answers, paired with the openness to fail, is not something to be ashamed of; it’s something to embrace. My motto is that you can make a mistake; you just can’t make the same mistake twice. Be bold enough to be yourself and throw out new ideas. Just be modest enough to admit when someone else has a better one.

3. Helping others

Public relations can be a dog-eat-dog, or new-pro-eat-new-pro, industry. In a severely competitive line of work, we must all remember to be humble, and to help others.

We were all ripe new pros once. (Also read: We were all once terrified to enter the working world.) Whether or not we had a mentor guiding us, we owe it to the public relations profession to help when we can, and to lift up fellow practitioners.

If that’s not enough to convince you, then I have one more word for you: karma. You never know when your actions are going to come back and either help or hurt you. Be proactive and willing to stop what you’re doing to help someone else regularly. The world can always use more positive juju.

4. Focusing on strategy

While we may be digital natives, we can’t move the needle without one important thing: strategy. I preach the same thing to every PRSSA group that aspires toward digital media careers, and it’s this: Social media is a tool, not the toolbox.

I believe that the most qualified people to master the art of taking digital tools and connecting people are those with relationships at the core of what they do: PR professionals.

You can have the most innovative tactics but, if you lack the foundation of great public relations, then your work may not only be a flop but also a waste of organization/client dollars.

So invest in the fundamentals, and buy a copy of “Cutlip and Center’s Effective Public Relations.”

Therefore, when in doubt, we new professionals can always afford to take it back to the basics at the end of the day.

Because PR basics are like a pair of well-fitted jeans — they’re always going to be in-style — it’s better to invest in them now than have to pay more later.

Greg Rokisky
Greg Rokisky works remotely as a social media and community manager for Streamline Publishing and as a freelance creative services consultant. He resides in Lansing, Mich., where he serves as the Central Michigan PRSA New Professionals vice-chair, PACE Awards chair, director-at-large and 2016-17 East Central District Diamond Awards chair.


Mara says:

There is a lot to be said about email vs. phone pitching. What do you suggest is the best time for contacting media by phone? I've been snapped at so many times about interrupting the flow of work, about looming deadlines, etc, that I've long since resorted to email pitching.

March 10, 2017

Karen Grajales says:

I find myself in the same boat re: media vs. phone pitching.

March 13, 2017

susan says:

As an assignment editor for 25 years, I can tell you there's no perfect time to call. Having said that, don't call during a major developing story. I'd recommend this: email first, then make a follow up call and reference the email. Be brief, Get right to the point. Make your pitch very succinct. Let the editor know they can call or email you back with any questions or clarification. Make sure you're contact information is contained in the email.

March 27, 2017

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