My husband is currently working on his M.B.A. (Only two more classes until he is done!!) He is in the insurance industry and some of his classes are more interesting to me than others—supply chain management (not so much), business communication (totally my jam). He recently took a class on critical thinking and decision making this semester, which captivated me (not so much my six-year-old) at the dinner table.
Part of the class focused on how people have a dominant side of the brain. Right-sided brain people tend to be more creative, and left-sided brain people tend to be more rational and logical. While I’m sure the test in my husband’s class was much more comprehensive and scientific, this BuzzFeed one was fun, if you are interested in in finding out which side of your brain is more dominant.
The class also showed how people work differently, especially when it comes to thought process/dominant side of the brain. So naturally, I started thinking about how I would use some of these techniques as a PR/media relations professional, no matter what side of your brain is more dominant.
1) Pay attention to how reporters and clients work. News cycles are rapidly changing and so are deadlines. Pay attention to each reporter’s deadline. Ask them the best time for you to send a pitch or story idea. Learn what stories make them tick and what stories they will want to jump on; also learn which ones will make them hit delete. Most of our clients are colleges and universities and I work with a lot of professors. If you are working on a story with a professor, find out their class schedule, or schedule for the day, so you can let a reporter know exactly when they will hear from you or the professor. The same goes for other senior administrators and college presidents. Their schedules are jam-packed, so set a standing time to meet about media needs, or choose a time you know they will be available for an interview.
2) Rely on your team. In this class, my husband performed a lot of work in small groups. Stuck on a pitch? Can’t write that catchy headline? Need advice on blog post? Use your team. In addition to weekly meetings, feel free to reach out to your team members for a fresh set of eyes and teamwork—always results in a better product. At TVP Comms we are a small team and are all willing to help each other out. We just call, text or post a message on Slack. But when I worked on a college campus, if I was stuck on an idea, I would also try to talk to someone outside of media relations or from another department on campus for a fresh perspective.
3) Adapt to your situation and be flexible. At TVP Comms we travel a lot (some of us more than others), but if your flight is delayed or you’re stuck in traffic, ask yourself how you can use that time productively. Most of my best ideas come when I’m driving in the car. If it’s a really good one, I pull over and Slack it to myself. When I’m driving alone this isn’t an issue, but when my son is in the car and he tells dad that mom got pulled over, it takes on a different meaning at the dinner table. Also, in our profession we set up a lot of interviews, send a lot of story ideas and not everything will go according to plan. Did you mess up an interview time? (Since starting at TVP Comms, I double check my EST/CST/PST a million times before sending an appointment.) Own it. Apologize, learn from your mistake and move on. After all, there is a lot more pitching to do.