When I joined The Reis Group in September 2021, I was starting a fully remote job for the first time. As an introvert, the thought of meeting new coworkers and clients, networking with reporters, and trying to get the feel of a new workplace already felt overwhelming. Knowing that I would be doing all these things over video calls meant that I knew I would need to have a strong plan in place to succeed.
Now, more than six months into my role at this Washington D.C.-based public relations agency, I’ve found a variety of strategies that have helped build relationships in the remote working world, especially as someone who is naturally more reserved. The key lies in finding a balance between being prepared and professional, stretching past your comfort zone to connect with others, and letting your personality shine through.
Successful earned media strategy and outreach relies on two things: a strong story angle and a strong reporter connection. Building and maintaining relationships with reporters depends on establishing their trust that you are a helpful resource. Most importantly, ensure that reporters associate your name with someone who is quick to respond, who will always follow up and follow through, and who is easy to work with. But if you’re going to be working with reporters strictly on a remote basis, you may need to consider additional ways to make your connection stronger.
Don’t be afraid to personalize communications with reporters who you find yourself working with most often. For example, stay up to date with their recent stories, and reference them in pitches. Taking a few extra minutes to show reporters that you’re paying attention and appreciate their work can go a long way towards them keeping you in mind as a valued source.
In my experience, trying to get to know clients over video calls still feels strange, even more than two years into the pandemic. I’ve found that one key to starting off right is to have a quick introduction prepared and ready in advance of meetings. That way, when it comes time to introduce yourself, you can jump in with a smile and communicate the most important things that the client needs to know – including how excited you are to be working with them. Practicing ahead of time never hurts either.
Finding time for meet-and-greets outside of regular meetings can also help build connections with clients. Getting to know the individuals that you’ll be working with most closely is important to establishing and maintaining a productive working relationship. Prepare a list of questions in advance to ask the client about their work and how you can best help them achieve their public relations goals.
Finally, it’s important to work well with the people on your internal team. The teammates that we work with day in and day out are the ones who have each other’s backs and make sure the work gets done at the end of the day. Let your personality shine through the webcam so your colleagues can get to know the real you – and then you can’t go wrong.
Water-cooler type conversations are hard to have over video, so make a point of asking colleagues how they’re doing whenever you have the chance. And stay engaged as meetings start or when they end a few minutes early. Find five virtual minutes to connect with colleagues outside of regular meeting times, and you’ll soon feel like you’ve been working together for a long while.
I was recently able to meet some of my colleagues in person for the first time since starting with The Reis Group, and was so happy to find that we were easily able to pick up in person where we’d left off over video screens. The effort that my colleagues and I had made to get to know each other virtually was definitely worth it.
It may seem intimidating to start a new job remotely, but remember that you’re not alone. If you’re prepared and have a smile ready for everyone you meet, you are well on your way to making a good impression and succeeding as a colleague and a public relations professional.