There are right ways and wrong ways to ask questions when you are new to the Comms business (or any business).
No sane manager expects entry level people to place clients in huge outlets or solve massive PR crises. However, everyone likes to see that new folks think, even if their ideas and logic are flawed.
Here are some right and wrong ways to ask questions related to key topics in PR:
- The bad question: I’ve got a story on “Subject X.” Which journalist should I pitch?
- Why it’s bad: It sounds as though you’ve shown no initiative and done zilcho research. Despite what some say, pitching is still a key part of what we do and research is a required element. So you better show that you’ve done some.
- The right way to ask: I’ve got a story on “Subject X” that I cannot figure out who to pitch to. I figured that because “Subject X” touches on “beats A and B” I’d approach “reporters C and D.”
- Why this way is better: It shows that thought has been put into who to pitch and some work about the market and what journalists are covering has already occurred.
Press events (conferences/stunts/etc):
- The bad question: Our client wants to know what time we should do the media stunt, what do I tell them?
- Why it’s bad: If we both know the market – and things like whether media outlets have meetings/newscasts at particular times – then it sounds like you are outsourcing the thinking to your boss. EVEN AT A JR LEVEL THIS SHOULD NOT BE YOUR APPROACH. Anyone can find out whether a station has a noon news program and when news meetings occur. Anyone.
- The right way to ask: Our client wants to know what time we should do the media stunt, I thought 1:30 was good because the noon newscast will be over. Moreover, we’ll still have have foot traffic from the lunch crowd passing by so they’ll see the spectacle.
- Why this way is better: As in the previous example, you have not simply outsourced the thinking to the boss. Moreover, by providing options and that touch on key success factors of a PR stunt you’ve shown deeper knowledge about aspects of PR that pros should never overlook. This impresses the higher ups.
Whatever you do, don’t just say “tell me what to do.” Rather than just presenting a problem, show that you’ve thought through key business issues and provide options. Even if you’re wrong, it’s more impressive.