4 Tips to Improve Your PR in 2019
By Jennifer R. Farmer
It is a new year, and a new you. If you are looking to improve your public relations in 2019, doing so is easier than you thought. If you were waiting on the blueprint to elevate your game, here it is: four steps you can take to improve your public profile and brand.
Do something or say something no one else is doing or saying. If you want to break through in the media and distinguish yourself from others, you need to do or say something that no one else is saying or doing. Do not choose this approach for the sake of merely being different. Look for what distinguishes you and your product from others and then publicize your thought leadership. If you are like everyone else, the media has little incentive to book or interview you. The media will instead go for the person who is more well-known, the trailblazer or the person with whom they have a relationship. Without thought leadership or uniqueness of ideas or approach, you will be unable to capture and sustain media attention. To go where you have never gone before, you must do what you have never done before.
Invest in public relations support. I love the oft-used saying, if a tree falls in the forest and no one was there to see it, did it make a noise? Did it really fall? You may be leading ground-breaking work, but without a strategy and a strategist to share your work with the world, you may be undercutting your own success. Some people wake up and go to sleep thinking about how to promote meaningful work. Find those people. If you are unsure where to look, refer to the National Association of Black Journalists, which includes public relations professionals as well as journalists. You could also refer to the Public Relations Society of America, Women in Public Relations or a host of affinity groups. If you live in the Washington, D.C., area, be sure to look up the Progressive Communicators of D.C. If these avenues fail, word of mouth will not. Most of the people who engage me to work with them have heard of me through others. Ask around and be sure to interview the leads to determine whether they are a good fit. A do-it-yourself approach is not always a blueprint for success when it comes to your personal and professional brand – it may be a recipe for disaster.
Get busy. Let’s face it. Media attention is highly addictive. When people question the utility of media attention or strategic communications, I know I will sell them on the importance of both if I have an opportunity to work on a campaign with them. Once the positive stories begin rolling in, it is difficult for most leaders and companies to dispense with communications. On a more practical note, campaigns rise and fall with communications and narrative work. Without the glare of media attention, it is difficult to build and sustain movements. Social good aside, on a human level, we live in a “see me, celebrate me” culture. If we are being honest, most of us believe that we, or a campaign we are working on, are worthy of a front-page story or a viral video. But the key to media coverage is action. When I think about truly remarkable leaders, I realize that they are active; they are constantly doing something to further their vision, or they are continually working to influence positive change.
The best example of this comes from my own client, Killer Mike. Whether opening a chain of barbershops with his wife, Shana, in Atlanta; investing in businesses in the Atlanta area with his business partner, T.I., better known as Clifford Harris; or kicking off a blockbuster new Netflix series, Killer Mike is innovative, and he is busy.
Take control and avoid the drip, drip, drip. You are human, and you are bound to make mistakes. You are likely to say the wrong thing or say the right thing at the wrong time. What’s more, if you are a public figure and are regularly profiled or interviewed, you will have more opportunities than the average person to either make mistakes or have those mistakes highlighted in the media. And guess what? The #cancelculture is real. If you are a public figure, the media and fans will stalk you and examine and scrutinize everything you do.
If you find yourself in a bad situation, take control of that situation immediately by investing in good counsel, acknowledging your mistake, stating all the facts and outlining a plan for moving forward. The worst thing you can do is to parcel out information or pray that no one finds out. Once inquisitive fans, reporters and investigative journalists get a whiff that something is wrong, they will search and search until they ferret out the truth. Further, people are inherently curious. And when curiosity gets the best of us, we will move heaven and earth to satisfy our “need” or “right to know.”
Jennifer R. Farmer is an author and strategic communications adviser for socially conscious organizations, leaders and celebrities. She is a writer for Lifehack.org. You may follow her on IG/Twitter using @pr_whisperer.