I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. What tools should a public relations practitioner have at their fingertips? I’m not talking about basics like the ability to write. I’m talking about actual tools to use.

  • The press release. I don’t care what Steve Rubel or others think, the press release – or at least the release format – is here for a while. What I think most people are missing when they get caught in this arguement is the distinction between the tool and the delivery method. Speaking of which…
  • Multiple mechanisms for delivery. Editors, beat writers and now blog writers are increasingly savvy in terms of separating the wheat from the chaff. And they want to do that on their own terms. If someone prefers e-mails you should be able to deliver information via e-mail. If someone is really digging the functionality of RSS aggregators then you should be able to deliver information in an RSS feed.
  • Audio/visual content. This is especially important for those products or services that look cool but are hard to explain. An online press room should be fully stocked with video of anything that translates well visually. As far as audio, podcasting is of course the latest trend in this area. It really doesn’t matter, though, if you’re producing regular installments of an audio program or just have a couple interviews with your CEO available online. As long as they are downloadable and not just streaming. Streaming audio/video ties the end user to their computer and eats into their valuable time. By allowing the files to downloaded and transferred to someones MP3 player you are respecting their busy schedules. It’s called time-shifting. Learn about it.
  • Knowledge of a company’s operations. I’m not talking about strategic overviews and corporate philosophies. I mean the nitty-gritty of what goes on in the bowels of a company. Spend at least one day every other week or so listening in on phone calls with clients. Learn what sales people go through to close a sale. Learn what client services has to do to save a contract. If you don’t know what goes on in the trenches then the message you’re crafting will only represent the executive perspective and that’s about 5% of what a company actually is. Without people making and taking phone calls, driving out to massage the ego of a honked-off client or hearing what the people on a loading dock are saying about the company you’re missing out on points that could be useful.

There are more and I’ll get to them at a later date.