NutsPR Spotlight: Shonali Burke

Hello everyone!

Another month has gone by, and here we are at the end of April with another edition of NutsPR Spotlight.

Today, I am very happy to introduce to you, the super funny, smart, talented, social PR metrics passionate – Shonali Burke.

I’ve “met” Shonali through social media, of course, and immediately was drawn by her passion for measurement. I started attending #measurePR Twitter chat, the chat she founded many years ago, and the rest, as they say it’s history.

Shonali was very kind to share with us a little more about her. Thank you, Shonali.

Ladies and gents, please welcome Shonali Burke:

When did you know PR is what you wanted to do?

Honestly… PR was far from my top three career choices, I don’t know that I even thought about it before I landed in it.

Does that sound horrible?! I don’t mean it to.

As you know, in a former life I was an actress/director. I realized pretty quickly I wouldn’t generate a very consistent income solely via theater – which I absolutely loved – so I started also managing events. I was also a radio jockey, and one day, someone asked me to “help” them with PR. And that’s how I got started.

How does teaching PR help you learn? How do you like to learn?

First, I learn so much from my students – whether offline or online. They are such smart people! So it’s really a joy to watch them in discussion forums, think aloud, and share ideas. I get ideas from them all the time!

I think teaching in general teaches (ha!) one patience and responsibility… at least, it’s certainly taught me that.

It’s a great, GREAT responsibility, because you are literally shaping someone’s mind. So even when students do something stupid – and that inevitably happens – I have to remind myself that I’m not there to chastise, but to help them find a better way.

Teaching makes me a better person.

As far as how I like to learn… the written word. I know videos are very effective, but they can get overwhelming. So write it all down for me, and I’m one happy student!

A piece of advice for anyone heading into the reality of PR?

PR isn’t “rocket science,” as people love to say, but it is an interesting combination of art and science.

Art, because what we do is rooted in persuasion theory; and science because now we can really measure so much more than we could just a few years ago.

So don’t let anyone tell you PR isn’t measurable; make it your job to find out how to measure your programs effectively.

Be prepared to work very, very hard. The popular perception of PR being celebrity publicity is just that – perception. A lot of our work has nothing to do with glamorous events, and there’s a lot of “grunt work.”

If you’re just starting out, get ready to roll up your sleeves… and be prepared to keep them rolled up for a while to come!

Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed of being a PR pro; despite the bad rap some “spin doctors” get. Most of the people in this line of work are good, honest, decent people, who help businesses do possibly the one thing without which they would not be able to keep the lights on: communicate effectively.

That’s not always easy, so PR pros deserve a LOT of credit!

What would you like to change in the PR industry and think it can be accomplished this year?

I’d like to see more pros incorporating better measurement, and less pros scared of Math.

I don’t think it will be accomplished this year (I wish!) but I do see the industry changing.

And change, even if it’s excruciatingly slow, is awesome.

What’s next for Shonali Burke?

In 2015, after teaching for other organizations for years, I finally launched my own educational brand: The Social PR Virtuoso.

The very first program I offered was The Social PR Virtuoso Master Course… and in fact, you were student #2, Corina – thank you so much!

I love that you called it the “A to Z of Social PR,” and it really is that.

It’s the course I wish had existed when I was a mid-level exec at PR agencies 10 years ago. I would have loved for someone to walk me through strategy development, message development, SEO (we weren’t even thinking of SEO then!), smart measurement… it would have been so great to have everything in a nutshell.

I kept seeing this need in my students as well, and since such a course didn’t exist, I decided to create one!

The course was really well received last year, and this year I’ll reopen registration a few times through the year. I’m also going to create more educational offerings, all available through the same portal… so stay tuned!

And – in the very near future, I’m doing a free online micro-training: The Social PR Makeover.

It’s a one-hour training on auditing your programs using my 7C Social PR Framework, so that you can really get them Social PR-ready… and there will also be a live makeover and giveaways!

So I’d love for your community to sign up – it will be fun!

You can find Shonali on her blog Waxing UnLyrical (WUL), Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and pretty much everywhere.