Matter Chatter

Tips for keeping up with the fast pace of PR

The PR industry has changed rapidly in the past 10 years. On one hand, technology has made our lives easier by providing us with instant access to information and new forms of communication. On the other hand, it makes your head spin.

On any given day, I’m monitoring several print pubs, and dozens of websites and blogs. I’m answering two phones and a Skype line, texting, writing blog posts, checking two email accounts, responding to instant messages, following LinkedIn group strings, and Tweeting and Facebooking from several accounts. This doesn’t even account for all the client calls and team meetings, and all the work that has to get done.

So, how do you avoid the drinking-from-a-fire-hose mentality and leave at the end of the day feeling as though you have been productive, efficient and effective?

For me, there have been two key behavioral/thought process changes that have helped curtail the madness (which I secretly adore, by the way).

The first is all about focus. Shut it down, turn it off, ignore it, and focus on the task at hand. My colleague, Julie Sellew, said it best in a recent post about monotasking. I highly recommend that you refer back to her piece, but in short, it’s about not trying to be everything to everyone, all of the time.

I’ve always taken great pride in my ability to multitask. I’m certain that the word “multitasking” was in the resume that helped me get this job … and every gig before it. Staying cool under pressure is one thing, but finishing the projects you start can be extremely challenging when information is coming at you from every direction. Focus on one project and complete it before you let something else grab your attention. It sounds easy enough, right?

I’ve also changed the way that I think about every task at hand. One of the biggest challenges PR pros have now is that with all these new communication channels comes the need to communicate through them on a regular basis. We’re writing press releases, pitches, blog posts, newsletters, Web and brochure copy, speaker abstracts, articles, and anything else that a client might need.

The key is to avoid reinventing the wheel every time you need to come with that new content. Think of blog posts as pitch topics, and use excerpts of bylined articles as newsletter articles. It’s about cross-utilizing some or all of the content that we create and ensuring that we make the most of the insights that our clients share with us. So, rather than thinking of every task or assignment as a siloed project, I try to think, “What else can I do with this?”

All of this is about working smarter. It can be tough to slow down and think about what you are doing and how you are doing it when the pace quickens, but in the end, it can save you a lot of time – and make life a little easier.

Now, about that email …