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Five Tips for Efficiency in the Fast-Paced PR World

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Image by David Alonso used under CC license.

If you work in PR, then you know that striving towards efficiency is a mission at all times. There are only so many hours in a day to stay updated on current news, meet client deadlines, be responsive to emails, attend meetings and find a way to be proactive and work with your teams. But, if you work in PR, it’s also very likely that you are a master multi-tasker with your own personal best practices to maximize productivity.

Here are some of my best practices to get to the bottom of my to-do list as effectively as possible and help my teams do the same:

  1. Utilize Mobile Apps – Some people like to download apps for their favorite publications to keep up with news while on the go. This is a good tip; but for me, it’s about timesheets. PR people tend to despise timesheets, but if you can complete them while on the train or at your leisure via a mobile app, then it’s not so bad.
  2. Maximize Commutes – Not everyone has a long commute, but even if it’s a 20 minute train ride (which is usually the case for me), I use this time to my advantage. Respond to emails (with your signature file embedded in mobile emails), catch up on news from Twitter and finish up timesheets (as mentioned). Having the luxury of getting a seat on the commuter rail train means I can boot up my lightweight laptop to update a weekly report or review a byline too.
  3. Know Your Schedule – You never want to walk into the office and realize you’re already late for a meeting. I look at my schedule in advance, ideally the evening before when I am packing up to leave the office. If you’re planning to write a byline but actually have six back-to-back meetings that day, that byline is not likely to get written. Know your schedule in advance so you can better plan and avoid the last minute crunch when possible – not to mention, prevent being caught off guard for meetings that you should be prepared for.
  4. Minimize Meetings – Some meetings are mandatory, but if it’s just to touch-base and make sure everyone is on the same page, that can probably be done over email with action items and reminders. As a group, the Account Supervisors at PAN recently discussed this. Does every team member need to be on a call, or can it be cancelled completely? Or, can internal meetings be held right before or after existing client meetings for 10 minutes, to prevent a separate 30 minute touch-base? These are all things we are looking to implement to eliminate unnecessary meeting time that could be better spend on media outreach or content development.
  5. Organize Your Inbox – There are some folks around the office at PAN, like VP Lisa Astor, who live by an “inbox zero” method. While I am not as ambitious, I do keep my inbox as low as possible. At the end of 2012, I realized I had thousands and thousands of emails that were not sorted and were living in my inbox. I moved them all to a new folder of its own and decided from there on out I was deleting and filing; anything in my inbox means it still requires an action or response and I can’t file it until it is complete. This has helped me to not lose track of deadlines (again, eliminating the stressful scrambling) and easily find what I need when I need it. There are tools you can implement too for increased email productivity, like FewClix.

These are the top five efficiency and organizational tactics that I look to incorporate each day. What others do you have?

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