The importance of feedback in PR – from media, to writing to client relationships

Like many around the world, I enjoyed watching the Winter Olympic Games. I love the fanfare of the competition, tracking medal counts and seeing well-known athletes winning gold again. Shaun White is my hero!

One of the other things that I love to see is the camaraderie among the athletes and how they relate to their coaches. I can’t help but wonder about the feedback they receive from their coaches in between each competition. You can do it! Don’t think about the last score, focus on what you do best. Next time go higher, faster, longer. Remember everything we practiced and most importantly have fun. I can only imagine the observations, evaluations, words of wisdom and encouragement that the athletes receive.

It makes me think of the importance of feedback in public relations – from the media, regarding writing and most importantly with clients. So what, exactly, is it? The term ‘feedback’ is used to describe the helpful information or criticism about prior action or behavior from an individual, communicated to another individual (or a group) who can use that information to adjust and improve current and future actions and behaviors.

With the media

When a public relations person pitches a story to our editorial contacts, best practices dictate that we have done our research. We know who the audience is for the publication, what topics the editor or reporter likes to cover, and we structure our pitch in a way that should be compelling enough for the editor to want to write the story. But that is not always the case.

Sometimes there is a piece missing to our pitch or an angle that would be more interesting to the editor. Sometimes their focus has changed or it’s just bad timing. Without specific feedback from the editor, we might not know how providing a customer or fresh data to support our pitch would be what is necessary for a compelling article.

PR people like to please and we are aggressively working to get coverage for our clients. We will jump through hoops to get the additional information for an editor to meet the deadline and to get the coverage. Knowing is the key.

Getting the writing right

The same is true with writing. It is such a subjective form of expression. Haven’t you had an experience where you really like someone’s writing style and other experiences where you didn’t? It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t an effective form of communication.

Feedback in writing for public relations is so very important from basic editing and proofreading to ensuring accuracy. When you’ve worked on an article for hours, sometimes a fresh set of eyes is needed to see obvious mistakes that you overlook.

We rely on our clients as experts in their field to make sure what we are communicating about their company, solution and industry segment is correct, especially if it is a new area to us. Feedback in writing will always produce better content.

Building client relationships

The most important feedback of all quite often comes from the relationship with our clients. We are here to work with you as your partner and to provide a service.

For us to be effective, we need ongoing, regular feedback and information. And quite often, it goes both ways. We regularly provide our clients feedback on positioning, making the best use of your marketing communications budgets, and what is newsworthy and what isn’t. Treating us as part of your team makes for the best client relationships and leads to outstanding results.

Toward better feedback

What makes feedback important?

  • It is effective listening. It’s important that the person providing the feedback know that they are being understood and that it provides some value.
  • It can motivate. By asking for feedback, it allows the receiver to perform better.
  • It can improve performance. Feedback should be constructive criticism and is the best at helping to formulate better decisions to improve and increase performance.
  • It is a tool for continued learning. Feedback is important across an entire organization to remain aligned to goals, create strategies, develop service improvements, improve relationships and to continue learning.
  • Feedback should not be uncomfortable. Regular, positive or constructive feedback motivates everyone to perform better from award-winning PR teams to medal-winning athletes.

So, when working with your Amendola PR team, remember the importance of feedback. It makes us all more effective and like our Olympic athletes, we all want to win the gold. Go Team USA!

Linda Healen
For more than 20 years, Linda has provided strategic PR and marketing communications services to B2B national and multi-national clients in the technology, healthcare technology, real estate, travel & tourism, and professional service industries. In 1999, she established Healan PR following a successful career as an account and client services manager for several PR agencies. Notable clients included Craneware, ReachHealth, Oneview Healthcare, Flo Healthcare/Metro a division of Emerson and CenTrak, among others.

Prior to entering the public relations field, Linda earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Public Relations from Georgia State University in 1993. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and active in the PRSA Georgia Chapter. She is also a member of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and served on the public relations committees heading Georgia Technology Forum 1998 and 1999, and Georgia Technology Celebration in 2003.
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