Getting Back to the PR Basics

A Guest Post by Harrison Kratz

Just a couple of years ago, I was a sophomore at Drexel University running my own PR consultancy, Kratz PR while juggling several PR internships. It wasn’t easy managing a dozen clients, class, executive roles in multiple student orgs, and internships but as a result, I fully saw myself as a PR man that would be rooted in the profession for years to come.

Since then though, I’ve shifted away from that PR foundation I had built and immersed my self in the world of social media, SEO, and analytics as a Community Manager and Social Entrepreneur. There are many similarities between a community manager and a PR pro, but the day-to-day and overall goals are vastly different. With these differences, it is very easy to stray away from those PR fundamentals that were drilled into every PR professional or student’s head.

That said, I firmly believe that to be a successful community or social media manager, traditional PR skills are a MUST. Unfortunately for both industries, this correlation has been forgotten.

Fortunately for me, my role as the community manager for MBA@UNC, in many ways has taken me from PR to Social Media and back to PR. To help me explain this path, here are a few of the goals I focus on a daily basis.

– Build relationships with bloggers and online influencers

Building relationships with online influencers is a focus for nearly every community manager. Some people are simply naturals at establishing these connections, but being able to develop report and relationships with external sources is an essential practice that every PR pro works to perfect. For community managers, those lessons allow us to utilize all of the communications tools we have at hand (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to develop these relationships and ultimately yield results.

Utilize social media to tell MBA@UNC’s story

For better or for worse, PR pros are storytellers. They are tasked with ensuring that the brand’s story is communicated effectively to the public and their community. This is the main goal for any social media or community manager, just through a very different medium. The writing skills I learned while in PR (being concise and highlight the important information) have allowed me to communicate full messages in only a 140-160 characters. Most people underestimate the difficulty of writing for social media and lacking those PR skills makes it all the more difficult.

– Manage our Student Ambassador Program

 To help tell the story of our new program, we have built an ambassador program where we leverage our students to share their voices through blog posts, interviews, webinars, and PR opportunities. One of the main challenges I’ve had in managing this program is training the students on messaging while blogging or in interviews. For PR people, it’s all about interview training for executives, management, and employees within an organization. Having a PR background, I know how to manage different personalities to ensure that the brand’s story stays consistent across the different spokespeople.

The moral of the story is that while there are new shiny tools being released every day that help us communicate and consume information faster and more efficiently; the fundamentals remain the game changers. Knowing the fundamentals and incorporating them into new practices allows any professional young or old to build a stronger foundation for success.

Harrison Kratz is the Community Manager at MBA@UNC, the new online program which allows students to receive their MBA degree from the University of North Carolina anywhere around the world. Harrison also sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Operation: Social Santa. Connect with him on Twitter @KratzPR!