In a recent Seattle Times piece, Allison J. Head announced her qualms about new workers. Like many young PR folks today, I am a child of Google. As long as there’s been internet, we’ve had questions and Google’s had the answers. However, not every on-the-job dilemma can be solved by the master search engine. Here are the top PR skills that can only be learned away from the computer screen—maybe you can find inspiration for a New Years resolution.
People skills. For a career that has public in its namesake, it can be astonishing how much we can build on our face-to-face or phone communication. Some lost art forms in communication include: How to properly answer a phone, how to act when staffing an event and the ability to keep up lively (and professional!) conversations at networking mixers. Some skills can only be learned on the job. A Google search for “how to act in social situations” should really be answered with an automatic “turn off the computer.” Master this skill by adding more networking events to your calendar every month—if you work in a city there are dozens at your disposal!
Organization. With the innovations of cloud computing, there’s always a way to back things up and avoid loss of data. However, look around the average PR pro’s desk and it’s a disorderly mess of memos, agendas, notebooks and the like. Solid organization skills such as proper filing, note taking and tidiness are essential to keep both you and your office working more fluidly. Improve your organization through use of a planner, color coding and consistent note taking – practice makes perfect!
Packing and shipping. If you’re a fan of the TV show Girls, you may have been able to identify with main character Hannah, when during her first office job she struggled with breaking down a box. Weekly, even daily, trips to FedEx or UPS are standard for aspiring PR pros. Learn how to properly set up a box, as well as how to pack and ship. Master the fed ex schedule so items go out in a timely manner; these skills are typically learned through experience.
Read offline. It can be way too easy to set your homepage to the New York Times, follow news organizations on Twitter and consider yourself well-informed. In reality, by relying on the web for news you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. By picking up a print newspaper or magazine, you can learn more about the journalists and publications that cover your client’s space. Additionally, by surrounding yourself with the highest caliber of writing, you can become a better writer yourself. New Yorkers, strive to at least pick up am New York or Metro in 2013- these papers are free all over the city.
As reliance on technology becomes more commonplace, and the rate at which we obtain information increases, it’s possible that this list can grow over time. Longtime PR folks, what common skills do you wish more new hires or interns already had? PR newbies, what were the hardest lessons you had to learn offline? Tell us in the comments!