29 Aug Five Organizational Tips for the Busy PR Pro
When people ask me what a typical work day looks like in public relations, I always give them the same answer: “no two days are the same”. The dynamic, fast-paced nature of working with multiple clients, all with unique needs, makes the atypical, well, typical. It’s what I love most about working in this industry. However, it was also what I struggled with the most when I first began my career.
I always considered myself an organized person; I took pride in my neat, color-coded to-do lists. However, I quickly realized that between the pitching, writing, researching, and weekly meetings with several different clients, I couldn’t update my lists fast enough. My pristinely organized planner and to-do lists turned into frantic scribblings on whatever white space I could find, whether it was a random page in a notebook or a piece of scrap paper nearby. I realized I needed to find a system that kept me organized, and fast. Luckily, I work with some pretty awesome people who are veterans of the PR industry, and they helped me find an organizational system that worked for me.
I’d like to share that system here, with one caveat. I find organization is a very personal thing, which is why I thought it was best to present this system as a recommended series of “tips” and not a hard-and-fast, full-fledged routine.
With that in mind, here are my five tips for staying organized as a PR pro:
Focus your to-do lists
Every Monday I set aside 15-20 min to go through my schedule for the week and write down what I need to achieve and when. For example: If I have a client meeting on Thursday and need to update their weekly report, I don’t need to add it to my Monday to-do list. I know realistically I can save it for Wednesday and focus on the more pressing tasks at hand.Therefore, my daily to-do lists only focus on what is immediately at hand and what I know I realistically can accomplish that day. Prioritize what needs to get done first, and stick to your list!
Organize your inbox
I am all-about using folders and subfolders for my email. Finding an email a client sent me four months ago regarding a press release is not a problem. I know I can find it in that particular client’s folder and sub-folder labeled “press releases”.
Compile weekly reports
At SpeakerBox we are big advocates for having standing weekly calls with our clients, which are accompanied by a succinct report updated for each meeting. It is a great reference for both the client and our team to stay up to date on current or upcoming projects.
Use your calendar for more than just scheduling
I use my Google calendar for so much more than scheduling meetings. For instance, I set reminders for action items, especially ones that re-occur on a weekly basis. Or when I’m particularly busy, I like to set aside a 30 minute block to scratch off a task that has been sitting on my to-do list.
Learn to love Evernote!
I am a changed person (for the better) because of Evernote. My days of colorful, hand-written notes and lists are over. I create a notebook for each of my clients and use the tags to specify the note’s subject matter. For example, if I need to find my notes from a social media planning meeting for Client X, all I have to do is go to Client X’s notebook and click on the “social media” tag.
Evernote also has a very useful feature that allows you to record audio notes. When you have back-to-back meetings in a day with four different clients, it can be hard to remember every little detail of what is said in those meetings. Evernote’s recording feature not only provides a great reference if I forget to jot something down, but it also allows me to stay more engaged in the meeting since I am not frantically trying to copy down every word being said.
These five tips were instrumental in helping me stay organized and ultimately, increased my productivity and overall quality of work. Feel free to try out one — or all! — of these tips. I guarantee they’ll make your life easier, even if, like me, you love your color coded to-do lists.
Want some more PR tips? Check out my post from last month: simple tips for staying on top of fast-changing news cycles.