By Leta Soza
If you are a PR professional in today’s fast-paced digital world, do you ever stop and ask yourself, “Do I have all of the skills necessary to do the best job possible?”
I sure do.
PR juggles a million things simultaneously, and we hold ourselves to high standards (not to mention the expectations of our clients and colleagues). There is a lot that falls in our wheelhouse and we’ve always worn lots of different hats; we’re writers, critical thinkers, firefighters, and relationship builders.
In addition to all of those roles, we also have to be adaptable and embrace the constant changes affecting our industry while positioning ourselves ahead of the curve. But what particular set of skills do PR pros really need in order to be successful?
After consulting some industry gurus, we found three key areas to focus on that will ensure you’re the most knowledgeable and well-equipped PR pro possible:
Skill #1: Embrace the Fundamentals
Proficient writing skills have always been crucial to the job, but today’s PR pros need to be able to craft content for all kinds of channels. From messaging suitable for a press release to soundbytes that fit into 140 characters, writing skills must be flexible enough to accommodate lots of new consumption habits.
Speaking of content consumption, now that there are more places than ever to monitor news, it’s not just about skimming newspaper headlines. It’s about being able to sift through traditional and digital outlets in order to extract the most important trends and integrate them into the content you’re pushing out. Context is key and without it, your work can quickly get lost in the noise.
Relationship building also continues to be a huge component of PR because the dissemination of information still lies in the hands of the writer, whether they are a traditional reporter or a Mommy blogger. Being able to cultivate relationships with influential media is a skill that’s not going anywhere, and no amount of technology will ever replace the need for emotional intelligence.
Skill #2: Develop Data Literacy
A lot of us got into communications-based roles because we’re strong writers and exceptional communicators. And while you’ll still need to have those skills, you must have some numbers know-how. Great writers who know how to manipulate and incorporate data into their work are currently considered rock stars, but they’ll be the new norm soon.
Gone are the days where PR can rely solely on AVEs or impressions. Deirdre Breakenridge hit the nail on the head when she said, “Today’s PR pro must be willing to cross the PR Tech chasm to dig into data that helps analyze market trends, informs creative pitches, and measures program success by tying different sets of data together to see a bigger ROI picture.”
In order to understand what the numbers actually mean and how they affect a business’s bottom line, you’ll need to know a bit about analytics. If you’re like a lot of other people out there who could use a class in Analytics 101, we’ve got the resource just for you–it starts with a “G” and ends with an “oogle.”
The Google Analytics Academy teaches all the fundamentals as well as arms you with assessment tools to test the new knowledge you gained. And that’s not even the best part . . . it’s all FREE! Consider it an investment in your own professional development.
Skill #3: Learn to Speak Geek
There are certain teams you likely work with on a regular basis like Marketing, Social, Sales, and Advertising. But when is the last time you had a one-on-one with Engineering, Research, or IT? Although PR and Tech teams don’t historically have much face time, who said it needs to stay this way? There is a tremendous amount of learning opportunities from this synergy, so seize it.
In addition to developing a better and more strategic relationship with a department you previously had little interaction with, you will also be able solve business problems faster and unearth pivotal information you never even knew existed. With this new found knowledge, you’ll be able to make more data-backed decisions, miss fewer opportunities, and increase your productivity. Woo-hoo!
Bonus Skill: Get Your Code On
In today’s technology driven world, having some understanding of coding is quickly becoming a ridiculously helpful language to know. If this avenue peaks your interest, be sure to check out these coding bootcamp recommendations.
So there you have it. Although we couldn’t pack every little thing PR pros need to know into one blog post, these are a few skills to focus on to ensure you stay ahead of the game. Consider it a PR pro’s syllabus of success. You can thank us later.