No matter which segment of the PR industry you are in, it is important to stay connected to the world. Like I said a few weeks ago, as publicists, we have self-identified ourselves as “information nodes.”
Well, to be connected and informed you have to STAY connected and informed! And there is more than goes into that than keeping up with PR websites (although they are terrific places to get industry news, trends and tips). The type of “informed” I’m talking about is water-cooler, pre/post-client meeting chit-chat, top-of-mind-awareness that can make you sound like an expert in EVERYTHING, even if you aren’t.
1) Your Local Newspaper Website – Just peruse the headlines, read a few of the big stories of national and local importance. If your client is a local company looking for nearby ink, this is what they are paying you to get them into! Keep track of new features. Newspaper blogs are a growing tool for publicists, since they add new outlets, even as print editions are shrinking.
2) CBSsports.com - If you are just looking for the top sports buzz, headlines, scores, etc., this is your best bet. They hae a no-frills layout that makes it very easy to get the top 8 or 9 stories of the day, check scores and schedules and maybe see what a few columnists are talking about. ESPN.com tends to have more Flash components and opinion pieces which I find quite distracting when I want straight-up 411. Sports crosses barriers. “Did you see that game last night?” is an EASY icebreaking question. And even if you didn’t SEE the big game, reading about it will make you conversant about it.
3) Money.CNN.com - CNN’s financial page breaks it down for us non-finance types. Simple realtime stock quotes on the top and articles that are laid out for us non-experts to understand it without grabbing a dictionary make this a go-to site to stay in touch with the economy and national business deals. I’m constantly impressed by how many new conversations I can participate in–and generate–because I peruse this on my Blackberry on my way into the office and again towards the closing bell.
4) TMZ.com or PerezHilton.com – We must know everything that Jon and Kate are doing, right? Both of these are excellent websites. The question is: how much snark do you want with your gossip? If you want straight-forward news, notes and invasive videos, TMZ is the way to go. However, if you want more eccentric personality and long-standing grudges to color your entertainment info, nobody tops Perez.
5) Weather.com – Take one full week and see how many people around you are talking about the weather. Everyone is concerned about how nice it will be this weekend, or if it will rain during rush hour and the list goes on. Knowing the weather forecast is a quick, smart way to be the center of attention and start every conversation. Planning a business trip to another city? Check out the 10-day forecast and give your team or client a heads-up on what to pack. Waiting for one more person to run into a meeting? Talk about how sunny and warm they think it will be on Saturday. It WORKS.
None of these websites are hidden…they are easy to find and all are mainstream. When we are working in a mainstream world, we need to know what’s going on in it. Take 10 minutes during your day to read a few of these sites and they will help you be the information node you want to be!
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