29 Things for PR people

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Just under a year ago I wrote a blog post highlighting 29 not-very-technical things that every PR person should know, which started a discussion about what the new PR person would look like. At the time I deliberately focused on ‘not-very-technical’ things because PR people generally aren’t that technical or they would be doing proper jobs writing software, developing web services and building cool things.

Life moves pretty fast when you work in social media, so I figured that it maybe an idea to review the validity of the list.

12 months on and information overload is still an issue. Now however its more dispersed and diffuse, I deal with suppliers on Twitter, Skype with my digital colleagues in New York and manage my contacts across instant messaging platforms. I’d expand this out to: how to manage your communications platform.

  • How to touch type – if you can’t manage your email box or have to do hunt-and-peck typing how are you going to find the time to think about working smarter?

I learned to touch-type on a DEC VAX that ran most of a factory I worked in at the time. I found it more valuable than anything that I subsequently learned during my degree. It got me a job that paid the bills in a call-centre straight of college and has been invaluable ever since. I have an Uncle who never learned to touch-type spending a huge amount of time managing his own warehouse with hunt-and-peck typing. He has been holding out for voice-activated typing, but despite it being on the marketplace for the best part of a decade it hasn’t made that much of an impact, neither has pen computing.

  • How to create a link. Look at the source code of this blog post or Google it if you don’t know how.

The web still exists.

  • How to embed photos and videos

And a picture still tells a thousand words

When I originally looked at this Facebook advertising was plain useless but it has now upped its game and it is a valid tactic to support social media activity. There is however no point in adding the Bing-Yahoo! advertising car crash to this list. So this one has changed to: how to buy an ad on Google Adwords and Facebook.

I’ve had people try to convince me that RSS is still dead and Twitter, Friendfeed etc are an adequate substitute. How the hell can people still believe in creationism, black helicopters and that Elvis Presley lives; yet, people still believe that RSS is dead? RSS is like plumbing for social media. Its how this blog gets fed into Twitter. I now have five times as many readers for this blog via RSS than visiting the blog proper. How to use an RSS reader stays on. Rant over.

  • How to do some advanced searches such as phrase matches, Boolean search terms, and site-specific searches
  • How to understand the nature of a community and assess a blogs authority

Over the past 12 months I would have advised how to assess a blog differently, partly due to the train wreck that has befallen Technorati. As it has moved away from providing an ad supported useful tool to being an advertising network, its data and reliability has gone to hell. The knowledge stays on the list, but the advice has changed.

  • Understand the nature of conversations and their appropriateness for your client

Shooting video has gotten a hell of a lot easier with the arrival of the Flip video recorder. However the skills of pre-planning a video are still needed as much as ever.

Measurement is still woefully underused on social media programmes, understanding the basics of web analytics helps justify client spend on social media programmes.

  • How to use social networks, beyond Facebook and LinkedIn

In addition, I’ve heard a lot of people say a lot of good things about Dropbox and I also use services like senduit because they’re easy.

I’d add to this using an online workflow service like Huddle or Backpack. Both allow collaborative working without having to venture beyond a single login. For the more cost conscious Google Apps is just fine.

I once heard of a client paying 30,000 USD for a press event invite site which tracked acceptances. The agency delivering it were very happy that the client hadn’t heard of Eventbrite.

Here is some additional recommendations that other people in the industry came up with in response to the original 29 things:

    • How to source, use and reference photos for presentations, documents, blog posts using flickr and other image sites

Great add.

    • How to edit a short video clip

The latest version of QuickTime now allows you to clip recordings, I must admit that I need to get a better handle on iMovie.

    • What dpi a publication requires (cringe if I see people send over crappy little images)

Jesus wept, 300dpi or better. You are looking at least 1MB in size for a black and white JPEG. TIFFs are preferable.

    • How to pdf a document (using primopdf or other)

Making a PDF is a system-wide facility on OS X and Microsoft Office allows you to save documents as a PDF.

    • How not to rely on social networking as the only tool to build their contact book #reallifeandallthat
    • How to set up a blog
    • How to write for the web
    • How to set up their Blackberry/phone with useful mobile apps

Given that the iTunes App store and Ovi makes this so easy, there’s no excuse.

    • How to take a screen grab
    • How to manage a quality online filing system so stuff doesn’t go wrong/get lost/piss clients off
    • Basic keyword analysis
    • How to alter basic HTML and an understanding of CSS (and the only reason that I’ve mentioned this is because I recently learnt bits)

Jed Hallam flagged up this one, but I think that it goes beyond the ‘not very technical’ descriptor I put against the original post.

    • How to use social networking to network with others in your industry as well as potential clients
    • An understanding of the use of music social networks such as Favtape and Last.fm for actually client use rather than time wasting and procrastination

Spotify would probably get included in the list 45. How to use Microsoft Office applications effectively.

    • How to synchronise contacts, calendars and emails across desktop, laptop, iPod and phone – and probably also a service like DropBox
    • How to concisely explain social media to non-savvy clientsHow to make good coffee (coffee, then milk, then sugar, stir, then hot water)

Good coffee actually needs a brew machine a la the Cuisinart DGB900BCU Coffee Maker.

    • How to rank blogs using a cross section of tools
    • An understanding of online word of mouth and the positive and negative potential
    • How to set-up, promote and maintain a wiki
    • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) basics, understanding clients’ search keywords and phrases – possibly moving from not very technical to ‘a bit more tehnical’…..but essential if PR is to compete against Search marketers as online pr/social media budgets become more competitive in 2009
    • How to pitch, but not over-pitch
    • Be able to monitor when someone has linked to your blog.

Over time, I am going to go over the elements listed and provide a bit of guidance or a how-to; so stay tuned.
Posts in this series

29 things: the basics of how to record audio

29 things: how Wikipedia works and how to get involved in the process of having a post changed

29 things: how to tweet

29 Things: Understand the nature of conversations and their appropriateness for your client

29 things: how to use Google for fun and profit

29 things: how to use an RSS reader

29 things: how to organise a PR account

29 things: how to embed pictures and video

29 things: how to create a link

29 things: how to touch-type

29 things: how to manage your communications platform

29 things for PR people

This was the post that started it all: 29 not-very-technical things that every PR person should know