Communications professions are more dynamic today than they have ever been. And with the shifting media landscape, the plethora of channels and digital tools, and the influence of audience preferences and expectations, public relations practitioners in the field must continuously evolve or face antiquation.
In a media environment where constant change is the norm, and where the role of the PR professional continues to expand and evolve, ongoing professional development will be increasingly essential for PR pros across all levels of experience. The lines between marketing, advertising, and PR have become less distinct, as have the lines between journalism and brand/organization-generated content.
A career in PR takes more than a good degree. To be successful you need to be an all-rounder with skills in everything from research and communication to writing and creativity. Here are the top five skills the sector favours:
A career in PR will present you with countless opportunities to be creative, not only in terms of writing, but also in coming up with new ways to promote businesses and approaching new clients. PR is a profession which constantly calls for fresh ideas and lateral thinking, so having a creative streak can be a crucial skill to bring you to career success.
2. Communication skills
Most importantly, if you’re considering a PR career you will have to be a good communicator. You will not only need to be a confident speaker, but an excellent listener too. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will have studied for an English or foreign language degree, you could be a scientist or technologist who has a great knack for explaining complex concepts.
A PR professional has to be sensitive to subtle nuances in language and culture because the job will involve communicating with a range of people across different mediums (social media, in person, on the telephone and in writing) across different territories. You will need to be able to appreciate other people’s priorities and pressures.
A PR person needs to be a good researcher in order to communicate accurately and authoritatively on a subject, so science or history graduates, for example, would be well-placed to deliver on this skill. You will have to keep track of fast-paced markets and be knowledgeable about your clients and their needs. You must keep up-to-speed with current affairs and enjoy learning about new markets. If you are naturally inquisitive, you’ll enjoy the research aspect of PR.
4. Writing skills
You will be expected to write engaging content for clients, whether that’s a guest article in a magazine, a case study or a press release. Graduates who have an excellent grasp of grammar and experience of writing a range of content – from essays to presentations and briefings – will be able to hit the ground running.
You’ll also need to have good attention to detail, which not only comes in handy when writing, but also proofing other people’s work. This is a vital skill to have, particularly under pressure, and it underpins good writing, research and communication.
5. International mindset
There has been an increased demand for language skills because of the globalisation of business. For instance, a UK client may lack the budget for a large PR programme on the ground in a foreign market, but has an immediate need for engaging content in that language on their website or blog. So the more languages a PR professional has under their belt, the greater their opportunity for international postings and new business.
There is plenty of scope for graduates who are fluent in foreign languages to write foreign-language content and research industry news, not to mention the option for sabbaticals or exchanges with other offices.