Art of Small Talk – How PR Helps with People Skills

PR helps build your business, but on a personal level, it can also make you a better communicator and sales person.

A few years ago, I worked with the founder of a hedge fund who wasn’t the best communicator with the media. He made a lot of mistakes when speaking with reporters.

But after a few months, I noticed his delivery got better. He also confided in me that his sales pitches got better. Our media training helped him learn how to better communicate with investors.

You can read more about media training here, but here are 5 Ways PR can help you communicate better in person. I originally wrote this article for Entrepreneur Magazine. You can read a shortened version of that article on the next page.

Best Publicists Listen and Interact

When you’re networking, be conscious of your words and how you use them. Drive the conversation with open-ended questions that lead to your intended destination. Learn how to grab information by guiding conversations, as opposed to talking to others.

Make Eye Contact

It’s amazing how many people don’t make eye contact during conversations. It’s like they are afraid of emotionally connecting are hiding something.

If you have difficulty making eye contact with others, practice in the mirror. A sociology professor from college demonstrated this to my class, and it works.

Dress the Part

Be conscious of what your clothes says to others. Roughly 80 percent of what we say comes from the visual.

If you’re trying to sell yourself as a creative type, you better not show up wearing a 1970s outfit – unless it’s a statement piece.

Be conscious of what you choose to wear that morning. I met some business professionals who looked like they stepped out of a 1970s Kmart catalog. I don’t want them advising me on creativity.

Yes, this sounds shallow, but perception is reality—and your clothes influence that reality.

It’s not about Me. It’s about You

In publicity, I always tell my clients the media works on their own time frame. Likewise, they don’t care about you personally. (Don’t take it personally). Reporters care about their readers and viewers and you’re conduit to the end.

It’s no different when you’re socializing at a mixer or networking event. Most people care about themselves. If you’re kind and listen to others, and add bring new thoughts to the conversation, people will want to listen.

It’s not earth shattering information but when you observe others at social events, you’ll see it isn’t common sense for a lot of people.


Marketing peers named MACIAS PR the 2017-2020 Strategic PR Firm of the Year. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Finance Monthly named MACIAS PR the Financial PR Firm of the Year. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He’s also a frequent contributor with CNBC and author of the books, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media and the Tao of PR.