By Glenn Roy
A degree is not all that is needed to become a true PR professional. If you want to be successful then you need to have a rounded set of skills that can help you perform everything from writing to research. Here are the top skills that you must have if you want to make your mark in the world of public relations.
Effective communication is the most important skill that any PR professional needs to have. You need to speak very confidently and listen just as well. Effective communication is a two way process. Knowing when to stop and listen and when to speak is essential to succeed as a PR professional. You do not need to have multiple degrees in PR to be able to become a confident speaker but it is more about being able to talk to people from all levels in any organization – be it the CEO or the cleaning staff. One of the biggest issues that people from the PR department of any organization face is barriers to communication due to regional or cultural differences. Other than being able to communicate with anyone at all you also need to have the skills to use different forms of communication medium. Social media, mail drafting, writing and other forms of non-verbal communication need to be efficiently used if you want to communicate to everyone in your network.
With emergence of new technologies, it is important that PR professionals go beyond rigid PR mindset. They need to become more business savvy. They need to know organizational hierarchy. They must understand client’s markets and develop strong understanding of how those markets are changing. But that would not be enough if they do not know how to co-ordinate with IT, Finance, Marketing departments inside the organization. This deep understanding of business from inside and outside will help them leverage the right assets to tell a compelling story.
PR professionals need to be able to conduct research very efficiently. Even though they do not need to have knowledge about everything in the world, they should be able to come up with some information to be able to engage in knowledgeable conversations. Being able to find out information on markets, current affairs, client data and other relevant information is crucial to the success of any PR professional. As a PR professional, you are required to communicate with everyone and it is not possible without having access to sufficient information. Research is also an integral part of communication and you should try to develop your research skills if you want to better your communication and vice versa.
Other than modern forms of communication like social media and IM messaging, PR professionals are also expected to have good quality writing skills. From press releases to magazine articles, professionals are required to have proper knowledge about grammar and have decent levels of experience when it comes to writing. As a PR professional you will be required to not only write the content but also proofread other people’s writing on a regular basis. Being able to write lucidly even in stress filled situations is a sign of a good PR professional and if you want to make it big in the world of public relations then you must need to hone your writing skills.
If you are a PR professional then you should have the eagerness and skills to perform well in an international workplace. This is greatly helped if you know multiple languages. Knowing foreign and local languages can help you work with more clients who have a hard time communicating due to language barriers. It can greatly increase the scope of your work and increase the number of clients that you can manage at any given point of time. It opens doors to international business meetings and a wide range of opportunities that would have not been possible without the knowledge of foreign businesses.
No career in the world will allow you to channel your creative spirits as much as the way a PR job does and if you want to showcase your talents and skills then the best platform to do so is a PR job. You will need to come up with fresh ideas all the time and having a creative streak will allow you to channel your career to success. Being able to handle situations tactically is not possible without this skill and if you happen to be a creative person then you will be able to make the most out of your tasks.
If you are a PR professional then you already know how important the role of multimedia is. You will need to rely on it all the time for online content and being able to manipulate various forms of media to your organization’s advantage is a skill that is very important. Things like Photoshop, SEO, Blogger and other multimedia tools are essential to enhance your skill set and do well as a professional. Try creating a quick video about the recent product launch by your company and post it on video sharing site.
Coding is one of the skills that might not seem relevant to a PR professional but according to industry experts it is expected that next generation PR professionals should know coding to make it large. Especially those who have already been to an engineering college, before taking up a role in PR industry would find it easy to put their technical skills to use. A big part of responsibilities of PR professionals have moved to digital space. Instead of networking offline, many of these professionals need to network online using tools like twitter. Before you decide that coding is not for your, just ask yourself – can you pull out the details of top PR professionals from twitter and contact them?
Mobile and social media
Being able to use promotional tools in social media websites that allow organizations to edge past the competition is something every PR professional should know. Digital content on smartphones is accessed by most people these days and PR professionals need to be prepared to reach the consumer base for any organization using these tools. Specifically try to understand which are top rated apps, who is the audience, how can a client leverage the apps or a mobile site to reach out to a larger audience? Keep in mind that PR deals with communication with audience a company has and it is important to understand which channel to use based on type of communication.
Data Analysis is something that is not new to the communication world but it has been changing quite a bit and number of metrics that PR professionals are expected to analyze have been growing in number. If you are a PR professional then you should keep updating your data analysis trends to fit in to the latest trends that are becoming a part of the PR world.
These are some of the key skills that every PR professional should aim to learn to make the most out of their careers and enable themselves to take on more diverse roles and faster climbs up the organizational hierarchy. Staying in touch with industry trends is essential to ensure you do not fall behind your peers.
Glenn Roy is a blogger with an interest in online reputation management and digital marketing. He likes writing on topics related to career, education, technology and digital marketing.