To succeed in public relations today, professionals need the skills to fit in with this ever-changing industry. Technology – from marketing automation to Virtual Reality – has done much to change the paradigm. It’s still essential to have strong writing skills and think like a reporter, but there’s a full complement of skills that help PR whizzes succeed to their fullest potential. Here’s a look at some.
Harnessed hypercreativity. Hypercreativity – the state of extreme creativity – can be a negative, but, if harnessed, it’s a PR person’s best friend. Beyond traditional outlets, there are countless opportunities to flex creative muscles on behalf of clients, including podcasts, social content sites like Mic and Medium and enhanced social media platforms like Facebook Live and Instagram videos. The most skilled among us push creative limits to come up with new content ideas for the mindboggling media options out there.
Smart diplomacy. The balance between clients, partners, press and colleagues demands consistent diplomacy, with an edge. There are daily negotiations to confirm client contractual agreements, make good on media requests, and meet staff needs. A misunderstanding means the agency exec must course-correct with a perfectly worded memo or conversation. And although none of these interactions has the gravitas or implications of political negotiation, there’s a reason it’s called office politics.
Resourceful researching. It is incumbent upon a PR professional to learn about a client and its industries before the account is landed. On any given day, we may become SMEs on businesses as varied as digital apps, package goods or professional services. The ability to be a quick study, research well and quickly, and synthesize large amounts of information is key. Understanding topics beyond a conversational level helps convey credibility and confidence and makes client and media conversation much more fluid. For example, our client WhiteClouds, the largest 3DSaaS provider in the world, looks to our team to “get” industry jargon and make it easily understandable to press. This skill has enabled us to better leverage media opportunities resulting in business leads for the company. Of course, fluency in the latest political news, pop culture, business trends, and social media advances is also helpful.
Strong organizational skills. It’s always been important to have good organizational skills in PR for simultaneous management of client projects. And while technology has definitely made the daily process easier – with apps such as Google Calendar or PocketInformant – a skill for prioritization is a must for a public relations professional to juggle the demands of different accounts having discrete projects. Balancing and prioritizing clients can be tricky and overwhelming, so look for organizing tips like these to help strengthen your skill set.
Confident public speaking. A cornerstone of public relations is strong verbal communications. Yet it can suffer as we all talk less and text or type more. Verbal communication (and non-verbal behavior like body language) is especially important when addressing a group – whether presenting to decision-makers at a new business meeting or presiding over an industry event. The best way to hone skills is by doing, but formal training is a valuable shortcut. Check out this Ted Talk on improving public speaking skills to increase proficiency and minimize stress so that any PR career is unbounded.