September 24, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

6 critical skills for the modern PR pro

6 critical skills for the modern PR pro

We’re nearing the end of the year, and for some, that means gearing up a job search to start the New Year off in a new gig. For others still in school who will enter the PR job market next year, it means shifting focus to how they will develop their resumes and market themselves to secure jobs. Other PR pros just want to make sure they are developing the skills to keep up with changes in the industry.

Regardless of where you fall on this scale, keeping your skill sets up to date and sharp is important. But what are some of the most important ones for modern PR?

Digital skills are a must-have

This doesn’t mean coding (necessarily), or even building apps. It means that your communications work is going to depend on your ability to convey messages that can be transmitted through, viewed on, or shared by sites and platforms on the internet. And that means that the more skills you have to successfully write copy suited to the web, or shoot web video, or record and edit audio podcasts, the better off you will be. Understanding how to communicate with your target audiences online is important, via the written word, video, or audio. Different segments of your audience may consume content in different ways, and being able to meet that need in a holistic fashion will be an increasingly valuable asset.

Measurement skills are another must-have

“But I got into PR because I don’t like math…” isn’t going to cut it anymore. PR campaigns or ongoing initiatives will have to be able to produce measureable results. This can be a somewhat fussy and complex area for the uninitiated, but a good place to start is by familiarizing yourself with terms like inputs, outputs, outtakes, and so on. AMEC—the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication—is a tremendous resource, and a good place to start is by reviewing their comprehensive taxonomy of terms. You should also be able to produce charts and analysis in Excel. You’ll need to understand the value and pros and cons of using surveys and other evaluation instruments in determining the effectiveness of a campaign or program.

Solid and diversified writing skills

Solid writing skills have always been a core part of a PR pro’s toolkit. What has changed is the need for a far more diverse palette of writing styles. The ability to write an engaging blog post, a succinct tweet, and a script for a video all while conveying specific messaging is what is now needed. Layer into that the need for writing that performs well for SEO, and the ability to tailor content to different audiences and it is easy to see why writing continues to be one of the most important skills a communicator has.

The ability to conduct independent research

Solid research skills, like writing skills, have always been essential to PR.  With the increased focus on measurement, independent research is an increasingly important component of developing a good program. For example, a PR program incorporating measurement will first need to establish a benchmark of prior results. You will also need to research appropriate measurement tools, identify correct audiences, and more.

Creativity and a global perspective

In addition to the increase of multinational firms and organizations, the internet means that even local or regional campaigns can have global reach. Twitter connects PR pros from around the world for idea exchanges in the form of twitter chats, and companies that do business in different regions of the world benefit from having communicators who feel comfortable crafting outreach approaches that reach international audiences. In short, everything from your networking to new business opportunities might come from overseas.

Comfort with the tools that allow for remote connection

Dovetailing with the global perspective listed above is the need to be familiar with the tools and equipment that enable global collaboration. Working with remote teams isn’t hard, but it does take planning, organization, and an understanding of which tools and software programs facilitate that interaction.

Today’s modern PR pros need to be nimble and creative, and open to a broad audience. Staying on top of changing skills is essential to being an effective communicator.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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