How to become a more successful PR professional

In today’s ultra-competitive public relations (PR) world, you need to find ways to stand out from the competition. It’s important to learn how to become a successful PR pro.

  • Will you land that dream job or first job?
  • How will grow in your career in PR?
  • Are you staying fresh and up-to-date, so you don’t become a “dinosaur”?

How to become a successful PR pro

There are 10 things you should do to learn how to become a more successful PR pro.

1. Do your homework

A mass pitch to the media never amasses a lot of press coverage. Before you pitch a journalist or blogger, know what they cover. Research and read, listen or watch their past stories.

What types of articles do they write or radio/television segments do they produce or lead? Fine tune your pitch to appeal to them, their media outlet and, most importantly, their audience.

2. Learn something new every day

Take a training course. Sign up for a conference. Go back to school. Get your MBA.

Make sure you are certified in certain skills such as inbound marketing, content marketing, and email marketing from companies such HubSpot and their Certification Academy Program.

Get certified in Google Analytics and Google AdWords. You may find out you know more than you think. You can also add the skills and certifications to your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Stay up-to-date with the latest news and information by subscribing to SmartBrief email newsletters.


SmartBrief has more than 200 niche email newsletters on topics such as business, leadership, enterprise IT, careers, social business, marketing, digital, sales, and business travel.

The editors at SmartBrief cull through more than 10,000 major media outlets and blogs to find the freshest and most relevant information (in nice executive summary format) so you don’t have to find the news. The news finds you.

3. Become a better writer

Practice being a “headline communicator” by learning how to hook your audience with your first five words.

Use a free tool such as CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to analyze the strength of your headlines.

coschedule headline analyzer

Find creative ways to flex your writing muscle.

Become a contributing a guest blog post to an industry or business publication. Start your own blog on and/or write for your company’s blog. And remember this fact. The best writers are the best readers

4. Develop deeper relationships

Remember how powerful and memorable handwritten thank you notes are in today’s online world.

Look for new ways to keep yourself top of mind in the eyes of your stakeholders. Make sure you can master both offline and online relationship building. Don’t forget that relationships are best built via face-to-face than over the phone or on a computer.

Find a local Meetup group on a topic you care about or that impacts your job.


5. Learn how to better manage the “yes and”

This is a twist on managing the “no.” Most of us say “no” a lot to keep our sanity and keep us energized. By saying “no” to some things, we can best utilize our precious time and get things done.

However, be open to the “yes and” … it is an approach with less ego, more openness, and more possibility. It starts by better managing the expectations of others.

Over communicate. Anticipate potential problems and start thinking about practical solutions. Understand the biases of others and how they think. Find out how to get through people who slow you down at work.

Make sure that you set the scope of work and discuss desirable outcomes. Learn how to manage scope creep and prevent it. Ensure you always under-promise and over-deliver. Don’t over promise and under deliver. That is a sure way to destroy your personal brand.

6. Prioritize better

When you feel overwhelmed by multiple large projects, step back and remember what’s most important to accomplish today. And learn how to stay focused when you are assigned multiple projects at once.

Create a to-do list at the end of every day, so when you come into work the next morning you know what you need to do first. How you end your day at work is as critical as you start your day at work.

7. Be more resourceful

Resourcefulness is a mindset. It turns you into a scrappy, savvy, and self-assured PR pro. For example, if you can’t reach a journalist or blogger over the phone or by email, search for them on Twitter and send them a direct message.

Learn the do’s and don’ts of connecting with journalists on social media first before you do that. Find creative ways to pitch beyond the standard news release. Remember, coming up with ideas is easy but selling them to strangers is hard.

Seek out the stories journalists are working on by using services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) or JustReachOut.


If you engage with journalists on the social media the right way and you are resourceful, you will become that source that journalists will be contacting.

8. Take advantage of social media

More journalists are using social media to find story ideas and sources. Learn how they are really using social media and how the most successful journalists use it as a resource.

Use websites and tools such as Muck Rack, Prowly, and Coverage Book find out who’s online, how to contact them, create brand newsrooms, send out data-driven pitches and make media coverage reports faster.

9. Network smarter not harder

Be a giver, not a taker when you are networking. Be helpful. View networking events as an opportunity to connect people, make introductions and become the go-to person who is the information concierge.

Focus on quality over quantity. When you are speaking to someone, give them your complete attention and interest.

Read the room. People who are willing to make conversation have an open stance, open shoulders or relaxed hands.

Join professional marketing and public relations associations such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)American Marketing Association (AMA), International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) or Ragan Communications.

Become a member of your local Social Media Club. Participate in Twitter Chats.

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You never know when a relationship may help you with your current job or finding a future one.

10. Use free PR tools

You need a tool to help you manage where strategy meets execution. You will need tools to help you manage, track and monitor your clients or your own brand’s efforts.

There are many PR tools out there that can help you deliver tremendous value to your brand or client – without spending a dime.

Bringing it all together

Follow these tips to do your job a little bit better, grow your career, learn new tools and new ways of doing things, and develop your skills. The public relations field is constantly changing but the fundamentals haven’t changed.

Do your homework. Become a better writer by reading more. Develop deeper relationships. Prioritize better. Be resourceful and network smarter not harder. Don’t always say no but “yes and” with people, take advantage of social media and the free tools available today.

What tips would you add to this list? How did you learn how to become a successful PR pro?

This post originally appeared on Spin Sucks.