Enrolling in an online course a big investment of your time and money. To get the most out of the experience, preparation is vital.
There is nothing more annoying than starting a course then finding you can’t find the materials or haven’t got enough time to complete the activities
With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about preparing for Soulful PR for Starters, which opens again in March.
1.Set up a dedicated email folder for Soulful PR for Starters
Redirect any mail relating to Soulful PR for Starters to the folder, so you can find emails relating to the course easily - including your login details for the members’ area (these will be emailed to you when the course starts officially).
Whitelist my email address (i.e. add it to a safe list of emails) to ensure they don’t end up in spam. The method for doing this will vary according to your email provider, but if you Google ‘how to whitelist an address with [INSERT NAME OF EMAIL PROVIDER]’ you can easily find instructions.
2.Bookmark the learning area (and this post)
Bookmark this post so you can revisit it when you have any questions. We’ll be updating it with more info over the next few weeks.
On the first day of the course you’ll receive your log-in details for the learning area (where the learning materials will be stored). Bookmark this URL when it arrives.
3.Introduce yourself in the members’ area
There is a private Facebook Group for Soulful PR for Starters students. This is the place to pose questions (both to myself and other members) and have conversations. Do go ahead and introduce yourself to the other students.
4.Join Twitter (if you haven’t already)
Twitter is the social media network where most journalists hang out - and we’ll be making the most of it during the course. So if you’re not already active on Twitter, set up an account and start using it.
If you’re a complete newbie, this article on how to get started with Twitter is a useful guide.
If you want to get more experience of using Twitter, do join my #soulfulprhour Twitter chat on Sunday evenings 8-9pm (BST). If you a complete newbie, read my guide on how to take part in a Twitter chat.
You might also want to follow our Soulful PR for Starters Twitter list.
5.Study the course schedule (and get key dates in your diary)
Spend some time familiarising yourself with the course schedule, including when you’ll receive the learning materials. Soulful PR for Starters is an eight-week course that includes six classes (video lessons of around 30-45 mins long plus related activities). You’ll also get five bonus sessions, which will be published at regular intervals during the course.
Here is an outline of the programme:
Session 1: Setting your intentions
Session 2: Connecting with journalists who are already looking for help with stories
Session 3: Developing story ideas for journalists
Live call 1. Date and time tbc. N.B. NO NEW SESSIONS WILL BE PUBLISHED THIS WEEK
Session 4: Pitching to journalists (including press release writing)
Session 5: Dealing with journalists (including finding their contact details)
Session 6: Maximising your press coverage (how to make each story go further)
Live call 2. Date and time tbc.
Bonus material will be published at regular intervals during the course.
- Traditional PR for social media managers and marketers (available September 11)
- Newsjacking (using topical news stories to get media coverage)
- Dealing with negative comments/criticism
- 3 x video interviews with editors from Marie Claire, Grazia magazine and the Huffington Post - in which they share their tips on how to get featured in their publications
- Influencer marketing (an introduction)
6.Do some background reading
If you’re new to PR, it can be a good idea to do some background reading before you start the course. My book, Your Press Release is Breaking My Heart, is a great starting point but is absolutely not compulsory.
As a minimum, I would recommend reading these blog posts:
7.Consider blogging about your experience
Taking an online course can be overwhelming. There is so much information coming at you, it can be easy to miss things. Reflecting on your experience and setting goals can be a great way to document your progress as copywriter Tarzan Kay does in this review of Marie Forleo’s B-School. You may also be able to turn it into useful content for your own audience.
I’d recommend writing a ‘before’ and ‘after’ blog post. Stating publicly on your blog that you are taking an online course also gives you accountability (telling your audience you’re learning how to get traditional PR coverage means you have to follow through, right?).
8.Block out time for follow up
It’s easy to finish an online course full of brilliant ideas. Sadly, it’s just as easy to get bogged down the minute the course is over, forget everything you’ve learned and not follow up on what you’ve learned. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by blocking out a few hours (ideally in the week or so after the course finishes) to reflect on what you’ve learned and make a plan to put it into action.
If you haven't yet enrolled in Soulful PR for Starters, you can do so here.