Research is not something that people often tend to equate with PR. It’s not the first thing you think of when thinking about the duties of a PR professional and what they spend their time doing, and it’s not what most aspiring PR professionals are dreaming about doing. But it actually is a major part, and very important to the success of any PR endeavors.
It’s important in PR to stay on top of trends and changes in the industry. It is changing constantly. PR and all the things that go into it or are tools that we use: social media, media relations, content marketing, the internet, it’s all changing so much and it is really important to stay on top of these changes so that you are always up to date and know how to do the job to the highest current standards.
Clients look to their PR representation for advice and expect them to be experts in all the aspects of PR that they themselves are not experts in and do not have time to learn about. That is a major part of why they hire someone to take care of PR for them. Therefore, it’s important that you stay completely on top of it all, so that if they ask you a question about a new trend you are aware of it and either know the answer, or can have intelligent information related to it to impart. In addition, even if they do not know to have questions, they rely on you to be offering the best services possible and be able to successfully use new tools and be up to date on all applicable trends so that you can do your job well and not get stale. In order to do this, you must be constantly researching industry trends and information. Each day, try to read not only pertinent articles and information that you see your networks posting and discussing over social media, but also a couple of new articles that you find yourself just by browsing.
In addition to research about PR, you also need to be doing research on the industry that you help promote. What do your clients do? Yes, you can promote them by being familiar with their brand and their offerings and pitching that to the media, but to be even more successful, you need to also do research on their industry in general. Being knowledgeable about industry trends that relate to your client will help in your pitching and your creativity coming up with fresh ideas. Your client will also appreciate the fact that you know about their field and are able to offer your own specific ideas outside of general PR practices.
The last area that is important to research is the media that you interact with. Yes, you may have an impressive go-to media list that results in great coverage for your clients, but media changes very often. It’s important to regularly search the industries you cover to see who has begun writing about it recently, or what new publication exist that you may not know about. This is very important if you begin working with a new client that is in a different industry than you have worked with previously, but it is still important even if you have been working in one industry for a while. Things change- writers and editors come and go, as do publications. You do not want to miss out on opportunities because you have only been reaching out to the same list of people over and over again.
A helpful tip for keeping up with all this research is to search for blogs and websites that cover news and updates on your industries to return to on a regular basis. You can even find existing lists (for example Best PR Blogs) by doing a quick Google search, and start out by browsing those. Find the ones that you find the most interesting and informative and check in with them daily. Another easy way to keep informed is to just Google search the name of the industry you are working with and click on the ‘news’ tab so it shows recent news articles about that topic. Be sure to do it often and to try different terms and phrases that all relate to what you are looking for so that all of the related results come up. Stick with this research and you will be well on your way to becoming an informed and knowledgeable professional.