Negative feedback is always tough to take. Even if you’re an experienced PR pro, criticism can take the wind out of your sails and leave you feeling a little unsure.
In reality, regular feedback is a blessing—92 percent of people say constructive criticism improves their performance and 69 percent say that they would actually work harder if they were to receive more regular feedback.
Turning critiques into triumphs takes plenty of practice. You’ll also need to embrace a growth mindset if you want to truly master the art of receptive PR.
The impulse to avoid harsh feedback is completely natural. We all cringe at the idea of a performance review, and no one wants to expose themselves to a public dressing down. However, most folks who give feedback do so to help you grow as a PR professional.
Maximize your chance of gathering useful feedback by reaching out to trusted peers and focus groups. Your peers can give you valuable industry-specific insights, while focus groups can help you better understand the impact of your PR messaging.
Remember to gather qualitative and quantitative feedback whenever possible. For example, when gathering customer feedback for your next campaign, include a few multiple-choice questions for folks to fill out. This will help you track any changes to your consumer satisfaction score (CSAT) and give you measurable data to assess any changes you’ve made.
Tips for taking feedback
Actively gathering feedback is a great way to boost your self-knowledge and set you on a path toward future growth. However, you may be a little nervous when it finally comes time to open reviews or sit down with your manager. Fortunately, you can learn how to listen to feedback by:
- Create an emotional buffer: You don’t have to wear your emotions on your sleeve during reviews. Instead, listen without interrupting and give yourself time to reflect. The person giving feedback may be in a heightened emotional state, too, so avoid responding with anger or frustration.
- Identify the purpose: Folks who give feedback may send you long, rambling responses. This is entirely natural, as giving feedback is tough. Try to parse out the most important points and reflect on the end goal throughout.
- Discuss the feedback: Eventually, you’ll have to respond to the feedback you receive. Minimize the risk of tension by thanking the reviewer and pointing out useful suggestions they made. If you have any questions, pose them in a calm, polite manner.
Taking negative feedback can be tricky. You can make the entire process that much easier by asking for feedback from people you trust. A trusted reviewer is invaluable during your PR career, as they will know how to assuage your fears and give you feedback that you can use.
Responding with grace
Eventually, you will receive feedback that rubs you the wrong way. This is all but unavoidable during a career in PR, as some well-intentioned folks simply haven’t learned how to give constructive criticism yet.
Rather than responding rashly, try to put your best self forward. This is particularly important if you encounter rude, untimely, or superficial feedback. If possible, remove yourself from the situation when feedback seeks to undermine you. Taking a step away will reflect well on you and may help you build a unified brand message.
You can learn to deal with a know-it-all by avoiding arguments or debates. Arguments are unlikely to yield any productive results and you shouldn’t try to “win” the person over. Trying to debate someone who is intentionally rude will drain your energy and can crush your self-esteem.
It’s important to take some time to reflect after receiving less-than-helpful feedback. Remember your own strengths and try to recall achievements that bring you pride. You need to feel useful and valuable if you want to turn feedback into growth, as high self-esteem can help you parse useful critiques from unwarranted rudeness.
If every PR agent worked without any feedback, the world would come to a standstill. Feedback is essential to all receptive PR, and it’s important to get comfortable with it. Even if you find criticism uncomfortable, create an emotional buffer and try to identify the main purpose of the review. This can help you respond with grace and preserve your self-esteem while undergoing a period of professional growth.