Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Monday Morning Intern: the business of clients fuels the business of PR

Posted by thecastlegroup on August 19, 2009

While working at The Castle Group, not only have I learned how a PR firm functions, I have also learned how our clients do business. Learning about a wide range of businesses and industries is an interesting aspect of PR. One day you may be working on media lists for a national restaurant chain, and the next day you may be writing an award nomination for a lawyer (I know, I’ve done both!). In order to do such tasks for clients, you need to know the clients well. In my time here, I have researched and learned more than I ever expected.

Knowing the audience and who the client is targeting is a top priority. After all, the job is to relate to the public. As discussed in my last post, this is particularly important when pitching to publications and blogs. This sounds like common sense, but at my last internship (at a family magazine) I saw a lot of irrelevant press releases that were immediately deleted. Learning from that lesson, I came here knowing my research had to be thorough. In some cases that meant starting from scratch. For example, before Castle, I embarrassingly knew nothing about Certified Public Accountants. However, on behalf of a client, I quickly learned who a firm’s clients are and which publications covered them.  

Beyond pitching stories, it is important to know what a client’s audience is looking for. By reaching out and listening to what the public has to say, PR professionals can make suggestions to their clients to better meet the audience needs. Twitter and Facebook serve as alternative forms of communication to reach customers and to find useful information for clients.

Understanding the mission of a client is also crucial. If you don’t keep this in mind while brainstorming how to write a pitch, you could end up writing something inconsistent with a client’s goals and standards. I’ve also learned companies won’t always agree with a PR idea. This is why each team has weekly calls with their clients to make sure everyone is on the same page. Everything must be approved by the client before moving forward, so by fully understanding the client you are more likely to agree on ideas and projects the first time around.

Even when you think you know all the ins and outs of your client, there are still a lot of details and information to consider. For example, eating at a restaurant can give you a sense of what happens at the restaurant, but what goes on behind the scenes to make it happen is more complex than it appears.

Knowing the “language”of a client is also vital. For me, this has been the most fun to learn because it challenges my skills as a writer. As you can tell from reading this blog, I have a particular tone and voice in each post. But my unique voice doesn’t coincide with the voice of clients, so if I am asked to write a pitch I need to know their voice and mold my writing to meet their needs. For example, since I am a traveler, I was able to help write a pitch for a travel website with ease because I am comfortable with my knowledge of travel and the travel audience. However, when I was asked to help prepare an award nomination letter for a lawyer I had to research definitions and explanations of different terminology so that I could assist with this comprehensive submission.

Overall, I’ve learned that to be a successful PR professional you have to be a mini-expert in many fields. Research skills are essential to finding out all there is to know about a company, its competitors and the industry. Having diverse clients keeps everyone at Castle on their toes, and exchanging ideas helps everyone find a successful balance.

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