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Guest blogger Tori Ward is a proud Louisiana native, born and raised in Shreveport, La. In May 2015, she received a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University with a concentration in public relations and a minor in business administration. Tori has experience in event planning, blogging, social media management and media relations. She currently serves as the marketing and public relations assistant at the Ruston Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau and is attending Louisiana Tech Univerisity to pursue a master’s degree in business administration. Additionally, Tori is an avid movie watcher, coffee fanatic and lover of the outdoors.

Tori Ward, 2015 graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communication

Tori Ward, 2015 graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communication

One of my favorite things about the always-dynamic field of public relations is that every project you take on will come with its own unique set of challenges and rewards. More often than not, when you start a project you have no clue what challenges you’ll face along the way. However, I’ve learned in my experiences that there are two key factors that help eliminate some challenges that are totally preventable: organization and communication.

Organization

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m an organization freak. I keep a super-detailed agenda and have about a dozen various lists and calendars going on at once. I can’t function in disorder, especially when I’m working on a project. For anyone who says, “Organization just isn’t my thing,” now is the time to make it your thing.

Organization is crucial when it comes to time management, meeting deadlines and creating an effective work process. With PR campaigns and projects, you have to be organized or you will seriously struggle with executing your goals. Here are a few tips for getting your projects organized:

  • Don’t just have a plan for the day, have a plan for the week. Sit down at the beginning of the week and take 10-15 minutes to write down everything that has to get done during that week. Then you can more easily split up tasks for each day and work on those one at a time. When you have the big picture on hand, it eliminates tasks from sneaking up and flustering you.
  • Give every task a deadline. This prevents last-minute scrambling and is especially helpful if you’re working with a team. I even like to give myself loose and hard deadlines to allow for some wiggle room. However, deadlines are useless unless you write them in your calendar far enough in advance to give yourself time to process and work unrushed. This will help you avoid those situations where you’re guzzling coffee at midnight the night before a proposal is due.
  • Find what works for you and your current project. Like I said before, each project brings its own unique challenges to the table, so you have to figure out what organization methods work best for your current project. If you’re working with a large team, a Google drive folder and calendar might be some of your best organizational tools. However, if you’re working solo on a project, you might find that a personal agenda and some color coding is your best bet.

Make organization a priority right off the bat and you will find that it eliminates wasting time and effort later in the project work process.

Communication

I don’t think I can stress enough how important communication is when building and maintaining relationships with clients. Agency-client relationships should be a partnership based on mutual understanding, free flow of information and an open expression of ideas. Without effective communication, you lose all of the qualities that make for a strong client relationship. Ultimately, if you fail to communicate efficiently and effectively with a client, your project will undeniably suffer and possibly fail. Here are a few quick tips for communicating with clients:

  • Know the right method of communication. Some discussions can be easily had via email, while others might require a phone call or an in-person meeting. Ask your client what form of communication they prefer, but don’t limit yourself to that form. If you’re having a serious concern that needs to be dealt with promptly, don’t hesitate to call your client. On the flip side, don’t blow their phone up with every little concern or question you have.
  • Prepare for client communication. One of the most unprofessional traits is being unprepared. If you ask to meet your client in person, know exactly what you need to discuss with them. They’ve set aside time out of their day to speak with you, so don’t waste it by showing up ill-prepared. Have your questions written down and bring any materials you may need to show/present to them (drafts, budgets, etc.). Also, at all cost try to avoid sending multiple emails back-to-back asking random questions. Keep a running list of questions going throughout the day and consolidate them into one email. The client will always be grateful if you’re efficient, clear and concise in your communications.
  • Be available. When a client hires you, you should view yourself as an extension of their team. Give the client specific times that you’re available and let them know the best ways to contact you for different situations and circumstances. It calms a storm of worries if a client is confident that they can reach you with any questions or issues. It’s also a good business practice to send any current clients a quick email letting them know if you will be unavailable for any reason.

While any job in public relations is sure to throw you a few hundred curveballs, if you stay organized and keep the lines of communication open, you’ll save yourself a headache and a half down the road. When you start a new project, keep organization and communication at the forefront you are sure to eliminate several challenges that would come your way otherwise. If you have any questions feel free to email me, I’d love to connect with you!

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