The Answer to Chaos in the PR Industry

Cross-posted from Ishmael’s Corner
By Lou Hoffman

I often characterize this period of time as the PR industry’s version of the industrial revolution minus the child labor issue.

Our profession is literally being reinvented right before our eyes.

More than any one functional skill, the ability to keep learning is the key to excelling in a communications career regardless of title. In fact, one could make an argument that it’s even more important for seasoned professionals who might fall into the status-quo trap.

We believe the underpinning for a culture of learning happens in the day-to-day activities. In other words, do individuals take the time to mentor their colleagues and find those teaching moments as part of a team working on a client campaign? Unlike theory, the reality of a client campaign has a way of tuning one’s senses.

Along this line, we also conduct a steady stream of training sessions for the entire Agency.

The following captures formal internal training sessions we’ve held the first half of the year:

Training Sessions for PR Career Development


In the digital age where all customers’ actions lead to search engines, understanding the concept of organic search is essential. Hoffman’s SEO manager Christine introduced the basic functions of choosing keywords, page rankings and more. This workshop highlighted the principles of SEO with an emphasis on organic search also known as earned search and helped create a foundation for each team member to build upon in future trainings.


The second installment in Hoffman’s agency-wide SEO training, this workshop drilled deeper into the concepts of organic search. Team members learned more about the best practices and digital theories that support SEO in our campaigns. Unlike conventional SEO consultancies, we have a deep understanding of the client and its business. Our SEO guru, Thorsten Papkalla, led the training.


A free graphic design tool, Canva provides an easy approach to create powerful visuals that bring content to life. Hoffman team members Erin and Callie led a training on the tool, introducing its basic creative functions, user-friendly layout and easy editing tools.


Media resident expert Kelly Stone conducted this training on media relations excellence. The workshop covered effective pitching methods, appropriate follow-up practices and the secrets to constructing lasting relationships with media professionals. Yes, it is possible to enjoy long-term relationships with journalists.


To excel in media monitoring and research, team members attended a workshop to learn the basics of TrendKite. The training covered TrendKite’s powerful search function, custom dashboards for media monitoring and more.


Taking the same curriculum I use for our external storytelling workshop, I delivered a half-day boot camp on storytelling to our staff members in the U.S. through three sessions, including one in our Portland office. It was great opportunity to help staff take a deep dive into the techniques of storytelling, including exercises that hone our expertise in conversational language, anecdotes and the value of “sausage making” to name a few.


Visual storytelling increasingly plays a role in all forms of communications. Using our own blogs as a laboratory for experimentation, this session shared tricks and techniques to create compelling visual assets that don’t require design expertise.


A technology media analyst who’s been there and done that (is a good way), Sam talked to the team about everything from how the media choose which stories they cover to how to place byline articles. Through sheer osmosis, everyone left this session wiser on the media relations front.


With more of our campaigns emphasizing content development and even content marketing, the spotlight fell on writing basics. This session covered what makes good writing by going over the process, addressing questions and challenges, and providing tips to improve.


Based on the Agency’s emphasis on SEO and analytics knowledge for PR professionals, the agency scheduled an ongoing Google Analytics class to go through the certification program. In a sense, it’s a natural step into big data. Want to know average session time from organic search tied to a specific landing page? We know how to get it.

It’s not just the changes in the PR industry.

It’s the velocity of the changes.

Our internal training sessions strive to not only address today’s client campaigns, but tomorrow’s work as well.

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