5 Tips for Meaningful PR Impressions. (Not the measurement kind)

When was the last time your team talked about “impressions” outside of the context of analytics?
For PR pros, impressions are at the foundation of what we do… that is, public relations. We help individuals, organizations and businesses communicate at every level and through just about any medium, in hopes that what they say makes a meaningful – ideally positive – impression. It’s tough to be meaningful with egg on your face. Or with a typo in your recipient’s name. Or when you’ve hopped on a conference call ready to negotiate with another party only to discover that it truly is a small world and you’re on the phone with that person whose bridge you’ve burned in a prior life (pre-yoga).

Thanks to social media, most of us are “friends” or LinkedIn with colleagues and contacts online that we’ve never actually met face-to-face, who may not have the benefit of knowing our likeable quirks through water cooler chit-chat. Studies show that those of us on our computers daily have social networks of around 700 people, never-mind potentially thousands of professional contacts.¹ That’s a lot of competition for attention! Making meaningful personal impressions in a deceivingly personal online world is more critical and advantageous than ever. Here’s a quick refresher for all of us (myself included) on making impressions that count in our daily work.

5 tips for making meaningful PR Impressions:

1. Make A Sandwich
Honesty is good. Brutal honesty? Not so much. Even the most constructive feedback on a decision, program or project will fall on deaf and likely fuming ears if delivered in a harsh or rushed way. That extra time and thought put into how you deliver your feedback often results in a much more receptive response. Try a “PR sandwich.” Offer genuine feedback of what worked or what you agree with, then provide constructive comments on what will get this project to the next level, then top it off with a mutual agreement of timing, note of appreciation, etc. But if you can’t be genuine, don’t. Just be polite.

2. Know your audience
Basic, but bears repeating: be thoughtful in your correspondence. Show your client, media contact, colleague, vendor and industry that you understand what they do and how they do it. Your background knowledge will add substance to your work and lead to more meaningful conversations.

3. If you don’t have time to send a thoughtful response, DON’T. SEND. ONE.
Split-second typing is dangerous. If you don’t end up with a typo or a mortifying auto-correct selection, you end up cc’ing your spouse, mortgage broker or worse. That is, if you auto-select the right person in the first place. Even with the best of intentions, rushed responses to a client, colleague or member of the media will likely – if not always – do more harm than good. Being responsive is great, but not at the risk of quality or tone. Why waste an opportunity to engage meaningfully in your very best light?

4. Less is More
Do you know that it takes 64 seconds for our brains to recover from reading one email?² Ouch. Avoid strings of emails that could have been addressed with a concentrated initial approach. Provide context in your writing to avoid easily anticipated questions. Your recipient (and their brain) will thank you.

5. Connect.
One of the easiest ways to make a memorable impression professionally is to connect. Ask questions that show your care and interest. Use someone’s name and their professional title when appropriate to show respect. Take the time and make the room for friendly conversation.

“Public” = “People”
At the end of the day, our profession is about helping people. Let’s keep that in mind when we are tempted to tally “impressions.”

¹ Study: Social networking site users have more friends and more close friends
² Study: Evaluating the effect of email interruptions within the workplace


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