People often ask me to describe what a typical day is like for me. My response to this question is usually to laugh hysterically…and then cry a little. The best way to describe working in PR is that you have a full notebook page-length to-do list, get into the office, find out that something has exploded somewhere, and spend the entire day putting out fires and accomplishing absolutely nothing you originally planned to do.
Publicists have to “go with the flow.” It’s a crucial characteristic of a good PR professional. You need to be able to jump right in, deal with crises, stay ahead of the curve if possible and keep everyone happy at once. That being said, many days do involve some kind of a formula. So, as best as I can, I’ll walk you through a “typical” day in the life of a PR pro.
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Working on the west coast has some disadvantages; namely that by the time you get in to the office, it’s already noon on the east coast. So the absolute first thing that must happen is the tracking and sending of press coverage. Every morning, we need to find all the press coverage that has posted about our clients, capture it and email it to said clients. This is time-sensitive for social media and SEO purposes. We share posts immediately on social media, and encourage our clients to do the same. The more exposure the article gets, the more the reporters’ editors are happy with them, and the more likely they are to write about our clients again in the future. It’s a win-win situation.
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Publicists are expected to be up-to-date on all news and current events. Because we deal directly with reporters, journalists, bloggers and other members of the media, we must absolutely be able to hold an intelligent conversation with anyone we are actively pitching. This means reading the advertising trades, entertainment sites, news, VR and tech sites and email newsletters every day. This is also an important step because sometimes our clients don’t know when their work is going to air, so we occasionally find out about work online. When this happens, we need to move quickly to capitalize on the coverage.
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
With time zones, pitching should ideally happen in the morning. My method is to send a personalized email, pasting any official press release and images below, then to follow up via email a few days later. If I still haven’t heard back, that’s the time to get the reporter on the phone. Reporters are so busy, and they get hundreds, if not thousands, of email pitches a day. It’s very difficult to make your pitch stand out via email, but if your passion for your client can come across over the phone, that always helps!
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
When you work at a boutique PR firm, part of your job is to bring in new business. My agency has been around a long time, and we have a great reputation in our little niche. Because we’re never hurting for business, our philosophy is to only work with clients who have work we believe in, and who are nice and fun to be around! We often take potential new clients to lunch or coffee to have a chat about PR services. When you get along with someone, and are able to communicate effectively about shared goals and expectations, that’s a good sign that you’ll have a positive working relationship.
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Social media is a key part of PR. We don’t only do social media for ourselves as an agency – we often run clients’ social media accounts. Clients often expect a massive following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while not sending you content to post. So it’s the publicist’s’ job to curate amazing content, post it, stimulate engagement, build numbers and then do it all again. Whew! This is a time-consuming part of the job. Bonus: you are getting paid to be on Instagram.
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
I try to write press releases and pitches in the late afternoon. I find that after I get all my “busy work” or daily tasks out of the way, I’m better able to sit down and focus on just one job at hand. Writing a press release involves doing online research, interviewing directors and executives, gathering image assets and fact-checking. We also make sure there is enough time to have every release proofread by at least two people before sending it over to clients for approval. We absolutely cannot get facts wrong, or we won’t be taken seriously. And if we send pitches to reporters with glaring typos, they may be turned off enough to not write a story! Accuracy and attention to detail are important in PR.
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
We try to connect with all our clients at least every other week in a phone call. Of course, we email with clients nearly every day, but it’s great to have dedicated time slots to communicate. Our clients tell us their new projects, we tell them about upcoming opportunities, we touch base on strategy and measure results
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Publicists have symbiotic relationships with journalists. We need our clients covered in the media. They need interesting, timely stories that will gain readership. But that doesn’t mean there is a ton of love shared between reporters and PR pros. We hate that they ignore our emails and don’t write about our clients. They hate when we spell their names wrong in pitches or send them stories that aren’t about their beat. But at the end of the day, we still need each other to do our jobs. Getting drinks is a great way to build relationships with journalists. I have taken many a journalist out to drinks and become good friends or acquaintances with them. It’s not even about work – actually, do NOT talk about work when you’re out to drinks! It’s about building a network of people you actually LIKE and want to work with.
7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
A big part of the PR job is seeing and being seen at events. Events (panels, conferences, parties, mixers, etc.) are a great way to touch base with people you haven’t seen in a while, as well as meet new people and network. Events can range from client happy hours to screenings, premieres, showcases, conference mixers, industry organization galas and more. This is a major perk of the job. Sure, it’s tough going to work the next day after being out all night in the company of great people and too much wine. But there are worse problems to have!
11:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
As a publicist, you’re expected to be connected all the time. Your cell phone is never off-limits, even when it’s after normal working hours. I check email before bed and respond to any urgent requests. That way, I also wake up knowing exactly what to jump right into when I get to work. Now for beauty sleep. You’ll need it to hit the ground running tomorrow!