Last week TJ Dietderich, of PR Breakfast Club fame, posed a simple question to me: I get a lot of questions from friends looking to switch to PR as a career. What are the best online resources to send them to?
Good question, right?
A number of blogs and Web sites came to mind immediately, but then I thought more about the term TJ used–”resources.” We’re talking about more than blogs here. What would really help someone looking to break into PR learn more about our profession, who we are and where we’re going in the next 10-15 years.
After giving that some additional thought over the weekend, I came up with the following list. I really think the blogs, sites, podcasts, lists and other resources below would give someone thinking of making the switch to PR a pretty good glimpse of our industry:
* Journalistics. Follow the heart of PR by subscribing to Journalistics, where Jeremy Porter and crew talk about all things at the intersection of PR and journalism. What I like most about Journalistics is that it doesn’t tend to cover the trendy, social-media-based topics of the day all that much. Sure, there are posts that include discussions of Twitter, Facebook and social tools du jour, but for the most part the blog sticks to topics PR and journalists would care about–tips for creating a great elevator speech, how to think like a reporter (for PR wins), and how to keep your news release from getting deleted.
* #pr20chat. A fantastic weekly Twitter chat hosted by Heather Whaling and Justin Goldsborough that focuses on the PR “2.0″ world. Topics range from social analytics to educating the next generation of PR pros to writing and consulting basics. I can’t think of a better way for someone looking to break into PR to get up to speed on what’s happening in PR right now.
* For Immediate Release podcast. One of the longest (if not *the* longest) PR podcasts on record (since April 2008). Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson typically record two podcasts a week taking on various topics in the PR and corporate communications industries. They usually use one podcast as the “report” for the week–think of it as a 45-minute CNN-type newscast for PR types. And, the other podcast each week is dedicated to an interview or panel discussion of sorts (just recently they featured a great discussion around social media analytics). I don’t listen to Shel and Neville as much as I used to (all due to time constraints), but when I did, I loved the fact that they included their audience in their shows. They had regular correspondents. They respond to voice mails. Real interaction with the audience. And, it makes the show. But the real reason I suggest this to those considering a career in PR–it’s a podcast; you can listen to it on the way to work, over your lunch hour, or while mowing the lawn (hey, I think I just convinced myself to start listening again!).
* Follow HARO for a week. Like it or not, media relations is a big part of PR. And, contrary to popular belief, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. What better way to learn more about what reporters are looking for and how they frame up stories than to follow HARO for a week? I mean, really follow it. Read the inquiries. Try to understand what they’re looking for and what kind of story they’re developing. Reading HARO for a week will definitely help you get a sense for the kinds of stories and angles reporters take–and what they want, need and expect from PR pros as a result.
* HAPPO. (Disclosure: I’m a co-founder of HAPPO). If you’re looking to make the move to PR, this may be where you find your first job. That’s the hope at least. And, it a part of the reason HAPPO exists. However, HAPPO isn’t all about jobs. It’s about helping other PR pros. That can mean, providing news and information. Connecting others with potential mentors. And, meeting new pros from across the world–all via Twitter. All of which I would think would be hugely beneficial to someone just looking to start a career in PR.
* Bad Pitch Blog. Sometimes as much as it makes sense to learn how to do a job well, it also pays to learn from others mistakes. Exactly why I would encourage newbies to read the Bad Pitch Blog regularly. What I’ve enjoyed most about Kevin Dugan and Richard Laermer’s takes over the years–they’re not afraid to take on tough issues and “A-listers.” Case in point, this post which was fairly critical of Peter Shankman and his Klout-based holiday party last year. Of course, they also talk about everyday issues and lessons that impact us all–like the recent post on typos and proofreading. For either reason, I’d suggest BPB as a must-read for those considering a career in PR.
* PR Breakfast Club (diclosure: I’m a contributor to PR Breakfast Club). Founded by Nathan Burgess, Keith Trivitt, Marie Baker and CT Michaels, the Breakfast Club is a great place to get all things PR–on a daily basis (sign up for the daily email–always one of the first things I read in the morning). Here’s why I would recommend the Breakfast Club to PR newbies–you can get a sampling of a number of PR voices in one daily email. Just since April 1, the Breakfast Club has featured a whopping 20 different authors and bloggers from across the Web (and country). So, you don’t just get one person’s perspective on PR–you get a number of different views. And, many of them are younger professionals (30 or younger), so you get a glimpse into what it’s like to start out in PR. One of the better group PR blogs on the Web.
* Start following some great PR blogs. I mentioned a few already, but start a list of 10-15 PR blogs and follow them religiously for two months. I guarantee in those two months, you’ll learn a ton about the industry. Start by pulling blogs from lists that already exist–Journalistics, Paul Roberts and Jeff Domansky’s lists are good places to start. If that doesn’t do the trick, check out Alltop for a more comprehensive list of potential PR blogs.
* PR books. While the online resources I’ve listed here are great, I’d still recommend picking up a good, old-fashioned hard-cover book every once in a while (or download one to your Kindle, if you prefer). Obviously, there are hundreds of books to read around the topic of PR–where to start? I compiled a list a couple years ago based on PR pros recommendations–still a good starting point. I particular like Kellye Crane’s suggestion of Elements of Style and Lauren Vargas’ recommendation of Never Eat Alone (not a PR book technically, but a wonderfully useful read). If that’s not enough, you can see what I’m reading this year–a number of great PR reads in here.
What about you? What online resources would you suggest to someone considering jumping into the PR industry?
Note: Photo courtesy of WSDOT via FlickR Creative Commons.