Many seasoned PR veterans will tell you that success comes with experience. But experience isn’t the only factor in professional excellence among PR people. In my experience the best PR specialists tend to have certain qualities in common. Here are five of them.
A positive outlook
An optimistic demeanor can go a long way in any occupation, and PR is no exception.
Author and journalist Tom Corley spent five years researching and studying the traits that led to success in wealthy entrepreneurs. He believes that having an optimistic mindset is the key to high achievement in life. In his MSNBC article he elaborates that, “Negativity can make you a toxic person. Many other success-minded people, who tend to embrace positivity, will see your pessimism as a problem and will avoid doing business with you or even associating with you.”
In other words, cutting out negative thoughts can inspire those around you and foster openness to your opinions and ideas.
A positive outlook is particularly important in PR, since clients expect us to help shape a situation into a favorable outcome.
A gift for conversation
The ability to maintain a conversation and keep ideas rolling is an essential part of the day-to-day workflow of PR professionals. After all, we are communicators.
PR leaders often encourage the regular brainstorming of ideas. This helps brew individual creativity and allows everyone to share thoughts and collaborate.
Persuasive language is another key PR skill. When conducting media outreach, our goal should be to persuade a journalist to engage with the information presented. If a journalist finds the information compelling, we’re more likely to set up interviews on behalf of clients.
An honest character
A PR professional’s integrity is arguably one of our most important qualities. In an era of disinformation and fake news, transparency is a must. Credible and trustworthy work helps build a reputation for individuals as well as the clients and brands they represent. The best communications people don’t try to shade the truth or blur ethical lines to gain a temporary advantage; rather they keep it straightforward and credible.
It’s also important to call out unrealistic expectations by clients or associates regarding media outreach or outcomes. As professionals, we must create realistic opportunities and communicate accordingly. As a best practice, we like to make it clear early on which types of outlets and journalists will likely be most receptive. By communicating a general idea of what to look for from our efforts, we can head off unrealistic expectations and foster a productive working relationship.
Ambitious people tend to succeed in PR. By having the drive and motivation to shape your work in a way that stands out, you set your professional persona apart from those who lack such initiative.
It helps if you enjoy what you do. If so, you’ll find value and accomplishment from it. You’re also likely engage more fully with the people you communicate with professionally and drive them in a positive direction, too.
According to a study conducted by The University of Bern, “…ambition was positively related to higher affective organizational commitment beyond achievement striving, especially when more organizational career opportunities were perceived.” The perception of opportunity leads to success, which leads to greater opportunity.
PR professionals come across difficulties or unforeseen events every day. Unanticipated circumstances can involve changes at the company itself, its clients or stakeholders, or even a global catastrophe like a pandemic. The ability to quickly adapt is a key ingredient for professional success.
By showing the ability to take a curve-ball situation and work with it, you demonstrate that you’re reliable, agile, and resilient. All are conducive to an environment of stability and success.
How can I improve my PR habits?
There are many more, of course, but these five qualities can help drive professional achievement in a PR career.
However, good habits and traits do not come naturally to everyone. If you feel like you may be lacking in a particular quality, there are steps you can take to improve.
Talk to PR veterans – Look for advice and criticism from co-workers. Someone who is proficient where you are lacking is likely to have the best advice on improvement.
Learn from your success – Keep note of what has worked in the past. Whether it‘s a pitch that led to an interview or an idea shaped into a great piece of content or a PR program, try to model past success.
Brush up on the basics – There’s no shame in re-familiarizing yourself with the basics of the industry. After all, the media landscape changes regularly and sometimes it‘s helpful to rethink your overall approach. Free online opportunities like the Muck Rack Academy Fundamentals of Media Relations course is a great way to strengthen or update PR skills.
In your PR career, you will come across many obstacles. However, if you strive to continuously strengthen the traits that build expertise, you can overcome any obstacle.