A New Year’s Resolution – Personal PR Perspectives

Byfield Senior Account Executive Katherine Walkling shares her PR resolutions for 2022.

A New Year’s Resolution – Personal PR Perspectives

A New Year’s Resolution – Personal PR Perspectives 1600 1067 Katherine Walkling

As we enter into a new year, many of us are thinking about what we learned last year and how to put it to good use in 2022 – we assess what has happened and what we have accomplished (or not accomplished….) in the past year, and what we want to achieve going forward.

Given that I started at Byfield just two weeks before the pandemic began to severely impact the UK and we are now hopefully coming to the end of the pandemic I thought that this would be a good time to share my very own PR journey and resolution.

My three main lessons learnt in PR over the past year

Communication is key with both clients and colleagues….

The pandemic vastly altered the business landscape, as we were required to work from home with little warning. Many of us then adapted to a hybrid system of working, getting accustomed to mixing up the days in the office and at home, before we were plunged back into the WFH scene under the Government’s advice before Christmas 2021.

During such disruptive times it is even more critical to maintain communications with both clients and colleagues. From a client’s perspective, regular check-ins to assess both upcoming projects and those in the pipeline, and to evaluate the outcome of comms plans, are vital. As for colleagues, I recommend touching base frequently to understand capacity and to share contacts or knowledge gained through experience – both of which are necessary when working for a small agency and to utilise all resources most effectively.

Even once restrictions are lifted, communicating will remain a huge part of a PR professional’s job. The relationships built-up in these difficult times by often virtual means will be strengthened as we increasingly meet in person again.

Pitching is a fine art…

It cannot, and should not, be understated that a bland, generic pitch will not land. Journalists are under a huge amount of pressure, and will not appreciate a pitch which shows little effort… nor will your client be happy when you’ve pushed them for commentary only to end up with no results in the majority of cases.

Unless you’re pitching a judgment just handed down on a high-profile case, take time with your pitch. Tease out the angles, working in unison with your client to advise them on the points which ideally their commentary would cover. Research the journalists who you should be pitching to – have they written about such a theme before? If so, reference that and explain how this commentary adds something extra. What sort of audience does the journalist write for, and how would you commentary be of interest to their readers? These are just a couple of examples, but I can promise you dedicating time to your pitch, and landing it on the first instance, saves a lot of time and futile effort in the long run.

However PR is not solely about media relations…

Starting off as an Account Executive, I often focused heavily on gaining media coverage for clients. While an important element of PR, the profession stretches far wide – there are many ways that you can support clients, such as advising them on their social media channels, monitoring the output of competitors, and looking at bigger trends which affect law firms as a whole – such as diversity and inclusion and ESG. Tapping into the other areas of PR will enrich your experience of the job, and will also add to your skill set and the counsel which you can provide to your clients.

The Year Ahead

Now almost two years into my PR career, my new year’s resolution is to increasingly find my voice. This includes taking a greater lead on client calls, meeting with clients and journalists in person more (depending on the situation with Covid-19), and producing more of my own content on timely themes that are relevant for the legal industry.

I’ve personally also found that, as I find my voice, I demonstrate more of my personality – which in turn can help build relations with clients. Starting conversations with finding points of commonality or asking about their weekend (if the situation so calls for it!) immediately invites a warmer, less staccato conversation – and often I’ve found them to be more productive overall!

I hope that sharing the lessons which I’ve learnt in PR, alongside what I’m working on going forward, will help other PR Professionals at my stage continue to flourish.