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A Must-Have Toolkit for Young PR Professionals!

Davina Nnawuihe

Public relations (PR) professionals often have a hard time explaining to people what they do. To simplify, most people settle for the “its part of marketing” explanation.  But,  the term PR underplays the amazing work of every professional who has fought tooth and nail to adopt the right strategies for their respective clients.

PR wears many hats. It is that funny skit about data plans from a corporate brand. It is the kind, calming and soothing voice you hear whenever there is a crisis. It is that true friend who relates to your troubles when it feels like you are alone. PR will break down complex narratives into a simple story everyone finds relatable. It is a skill that everyone should have because it is beyond a profession.

For most young professionals, this may seem like an overwhelming journey, but it is nothing you cannot handle with some insight. To get you started, here is a special toolkit to use in the world of Public Relations;

   Client Management - Knowing your client is the first step to succeeding. Having a great working relationship with your client can solve many problems for you and your company. Every client wants to go to bed knowing that their brand or company is in good hands. They won’t get that reassurance from scheduled meetings alone.

Periodic calls and impromptu meetings could help build trust - this creates a window for you to wear the client’s shoes, and gain insight into some of the internal activities, the brand story, and the company’s overall vision for the year, planned roadmaps, possible roadblocks etc. Having access to this information saves you a lot of time, research and effort in providing the right solutions for your client.

   Strategy - For every action you take while handling a client or a project, there should be an underlying reason. Sometimes, it goes beyond connecting with the right audience. Sometimes, you need to go neck-deep in research to figure out who these audiences are, where they live and how they communicate. Other times, you have to wear the shoes. At the end of it all, you will realise that you have to connect the dots to formulate the right strategy for your campaign or project.

This forms the blueprint of the entire campaign; it informs how you execute your overall PR plan and the right platforms to use. Whichever way you choose to go when addressing a problem, every PR professional needs to be able to strategise. I believe strategy is the foundation of your practice which helps you connect all the missing pieces in your brief.

For young professionals who may not necessarily be expected to dive into strategy in the first few months, be inquisitive. Offer to do the research, and request for the opportunity to be a part of brainstorms. Learn about creating strategies from the start, even if it means, learning one slide at a time.

   Storytelling - Storytelling is what you get when you combine content, strategy and a lot of creativity. As a PR professional, you need to understand that no story is accidental. Be intentional about your storytelling narrative and how you want to tell it. Consider factors like the demography and psychography of the audience you are speaking to as well as the tone you adopt. Also, the nature of the project you are working on could inform your storytelling strategy.

There are different forms of storytelling. For example, when you want to consider speaking to a younger audience about the launch of a new soda, you may look to telling stories on Instagram reels, carousels, TikTok, Twitter threads, culturally-relevant newsletters, and YouTube channels. These platforms invite the viewer into a world that captures the aesthetics of the product; expressions that infer a sense of good taste, etc.

Most importantly, storytelling sometimes involves using the right voices or faces, popularly known as influencers or opinion leaders, depending on the kind of story you are telling. If strategy is the foundation of your practice then storytelling is the building block. They go hand in hand.

   Media Relations - Let’s take it from the top - You’ve received a brief, you have formulated your strategy and there is a plan. You have curated all the stories needed to execute flawlessly. How do you bridge the gap between your client and its various audiences? The answer is simple - The media.

As a PR professional, you should have an in-depth understanding of your mediaverse - Print, TV, Radio, Magazines, and social media platforms. Basically, any platform your audience will most likely visit for information should be featured in your mediaverse, but knowing this is just the first step.

The most important and usually the most underrated aspect of this step is the key players in the media, the journalists, the correspondents, page owners etc. Placement is what every Tom, Dick and Harry can maneuver but developing a great relationship with various media professionals will guarantee you steps ahead. With this, you are armed with preparedness, proactiveness and promptness 

   Evaluate, Report, Learn - When all is said and done with your project, you might want to document everything that you have done and showcase the results and impact not just to your team, but to your client as well. I'd recommend using the AMEC Measurement Framework. Do not rely so much on vanity metrics; ensure you match your outcome with your objectives. Did you surpass your goals? If you didn't, what did you learn? What could be better? Always make sure to leave recommendations for your client. It shows you are keen on delivering excellence.

In my opinion, PR is a superpower, not a skill. You have the power to influence people’s perception of something. You get to find a bridge between the brand voice and the voice of its stakeholders. Knowing that the right words and strategy can impact the company’s goodwill and revenues should be enough to keep you thriving.

I hope this toolkit provides the answers you seek, but remember - your creativity and doggedness is what truly sets you apart.

Good luck!

Book your free place to PRCA Africa NextGen's next virtual event on 29th September: What to expect in your first year in PR.

About Davina Nnawuihe,  MPRCA

Davina is a senior communications strategist at Opinion & Public BCW and a member of the PRCA Africa NextGen group. It supports a group of multinationals in French-speaking Africa by delivering corporate communication services. She has over six years of multi-sectoral experience working with global and indigenous brands across Sub-Saharan Africa.

PRC Africa NextGen