That said, no matter what your current professional level of experience you may have, you will need to avoid many of the common mistakes public affairs professionals are known to potentially make. In some instances, such a mistake could prove to be a disaster that leads to the end of a public affairs career. Rather than suffer from such a calamitous situation, it would be best to identify the common mistakes. Upon identifying them, you will need to take the proper steps to avoid making them.
Mistakes to Avoid
Here is a look at the most common public affairs mistakes:
• Improperly communicating with the public is not helpful. Really, how could a person in a public affairs career that does not properly communicate with the public be helpful in any way? No one can be considered a perfect communicator. All communication skills can be improved. So, at the most basic levels, effective writing, speaking, and presentation abilities will certainly yield some results.
• Addressing the public in a manner that is not timely can be ineffective. Is a new product being released soon? Clearly, it would not be a wise idea to let people know about it three weeks after it hits the market! Yes, that is an exaggerated example but it presents the main point: you need to be timely in your public affairs communications to the public.
• Jumping to conclusions must always be avoided. Here is some important advice: always have the facts in your hand before issuing any public affairs statements. An inaccurate or improper press release (or an internal memo for that matter) can make a bad public affairs scenario even worse. So, always have your facts in order prior to making any determinations.
• Not clearly identifying the scope of a public affairs disaster. Some minor and small problems are neither minor nor small. That means they create the potential for a serious public relations disaster that could have been avoided with a quicker, more appropriate response. Prior to making any judgments about the severity of a situation, it is necessary to seriously examine the situation. Then, you must clearly determine its severity. To do otherwise could deliver the aforementioned disaster scenario.
• Getting caught off guard will always be a difficult situation so avoid it as much as possible. No one can say they can never be caught off guard. It happens and emergency scenarios do happen. However, those that have been in a public affairs career for some time will mention that it is best to stay on top of as many things as possible. This reduces the potential to be caught off guard dramatically.
• Not having the proper support staff in place can prove problematic. No matter how good someone is in a public affairs job, it is impossible to do all things solo. Not effectively hiring or working with a support staff can undermine effectiveness to a tremendous degree.
• Overreacting never presents a positive outcome. Public affairs professionals are expected to be...professional. Those that over react to a problem can make a situation worse since public statements revealing such a sentiment will doubtfully be helpful.
• Going rogue with your public affairs releases is not professional. When you are a public affairs professional you are a representative or employee or a firm or client. That means the company and client's needs must be met first. Always be sure that whatever you do in your duties and capacities of a public affairs professional serves the needs of who you work for. If not then you may not find yourself in the job for very long.
Of course, this is a mere short list of the common mistakes people will make when they work in a public affairs job. Ultimately, no one is perfect and all are prone to making mistakes. The key here is to limit the number of mistakes you make so you can stay focused on your job in best manner possible.
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