The pandemic disrupted everything during my last two college semesters. I had to adapt to a new way of learning which required a lot of discipline. But overcoming these challenges led to an online PR internship and eventually, my role at Veracity—leading me to believe that a diligent PR pro can work anywhere, even virtually.
It all boils down to understanding how to foster relationships virtually, since the PR professional’s primary responsibility revolves around maintaining relationships. While not every virtual PR agency operates similarly, below are a few tips that our agency uses that may help.
Leveraging Available Technology
- With the client: To keep close connections with our clients and ensure our goals are aligned, we rely on communication updates through email and video meetings. One key to success is scheduling recurring monthly meetings, that are organized through agendas to maximize efficiencies.
- With the media: We, as PR pros, need to stay informed about the latest media happenings, so while staying up to date, we also proactively monitor our favorite contacts. By following them on platforms like LinkedIn, we show our interest and boost our chances of securing future media coverage.
- With fellow PR pros: Using project and PR management tools is important online. Without the ability to glance over a cubicle and check on your team’s progress, it becomes everyone’s responsibility to track and share their tasks. We’ve tried various technologies, but Asana, Muck Rack and Google Drive are our favorites.
Clear Communication Structures
- Effective email etiquette: Maintaining good email etiquette is necessary, especially when working from home and relying on email. It’s important to avoid communication mishaps like sending unnecessarily long emails that could be more efficiently addressed through a phone call. Nonetheless, email is excellent for connecting with others, getting answers and record keeping.
- Active listening: Virtual work means missing the little things that could happen in person, so it is essential to keep track of the personal details your clients, colleagues or media contacts share. For example, if you learn that a client’s child is graduating next week, make a point to remember and send them a thoughtful email with your best wishes. Small touches like this will help nurture professional relationships from afar.
- Online written content: Placing content online, like articles, blogs, social media posts, etc., is a great way to build credibility with clients and target audiences without leaving your house. Using this type of content to share opinions, expertise, and even a touch of personal information online increases trust and has a larger reach.
- Online networking opportunities: Podcasts, digital conferences, you name it, are all great ways to build connections, continue learning and establish credibility if a speaking engagement arises. For example, pitching clients for podcast appearances allow us to expand our network and foster new relationships.
Overcoming Online Challenges
While online PR offers numerous advantages, we acknowledge that barriers can also arise.
Communication Barriers: With the main source of communication being email, it becomes important to ensure clarity to avoid confusion. This is why we emphasize scheduling recurring video meetings to engage in real-time discussions, addressing any potential misunderstandings consistently.
Time Zone and Scheduling Barriers: Another slight issue we face is coordinating different time zones. With everyone from various regions, finding mutually convenient meeting times can be a hurdle. However, the benefits of working together despite the time zone differences outweigh the difficulty.
Work-Life Boundaries: It’s easy to lose track of time while working from home. I have faced the struggle. That’s why I incorporate the workday start-up and shutdown routines we learned from a PR Talk guest to establish clear boundaries between personal and professional life.
While PR can be done efficiently online, it’s essential to remember the value of in-person connections. Finding ways to get into your community and engage in offline interactions is still significant. Nevertheless, the potential to accomplish tasks and fulfill responsibilities online is undeniable. PR professionals can thrive in the digital landscape with the right strategies and tools.