A career in public relations means your work is always in the spotlight. The profession demands excellent communication skills, exceptional attention to detail and proficiency in all forms of media. Whether you represent a company, a cause or a candidate, the role is essentially the same sharing information with the public to raise awareness and to create a positive image for your client.

Public relations professionals are the world’s biggest cheerleaders for a cause, company or client. Positive, proactive, prepared and team-oriented, public relations professionals best represent others when they mirror the values and character traits of those they speak for.

Bellow are 5 characteristics of a PR professional;

1. Honesty

Good character or ethics lies at the heart of public relations like any other profession. Maintaining ethical values and standards is the key to establishing trust and good relationships with employees, employers, clients, media contacts.

The role of public relations is to educate and inform key stakeholders and audiences about your business and what you can provide as a business partner.  This is built on public trust, a trust where honesty and transparency is the foundation. Any breach of this public trust ultimately harms your credibility, your professionalism, and ultimately your client.

Once you are found to be dishonest or non-transparent in your communications, any trust with your consumers is lost and is likely lost for good. While in some cases being a little dishonest may seem beneficial in the short term, in the long run it is harmful to businesses and should be avoided.

Public Relations Practitioners are faced with dilemmas on a daily basis. Choices must be made to determine what medium will be most effective to disseminate a message or what strategy of crisis management to initiate after an incident. Decisions go beyond strictly business and stray into the areas of ethics and moral decisions. Good public relations practitioners strive to conduct their business in the most effective manner, while great public relations practitioners are effective without compromising their organizations or personal ethics.

2. Attention to detail

Word choice is critical in public relations. The wrong word can cause an otherwise positive statement to spiral into an unending nightmare of clarifications. In public relations today, it is incumbent on those who speak and write to pick their words with extreme care. You must be aware that words mean different things to different generations. Public relations also relies on positive relationships. Remembering the names of people you interact with, no matter how infrequently, builds instant rapport. In the fast-paced world we share, common courtesy can be overlooked. Thanking people creates goodwill that carries forward in your relationships.

Being detail oriented is an attribute all PR professionals should possess, as this skill is especially important when it comes to preparing press materials, such as writing press releases and pitches. This skill comes in handy even before you secure the job because, while you are applying, you must be sure to pay attention to details in preparing interview materials, such as a resume or cover letter. Be sure to elaborate by adding impressive numbers through percentages.

For example, instead of saying that you “devised strategies for an organization’s membership retention and growth,” include concrete results by saying you “increased an organization’s membership by 20 percent.” This reads much stronger. It is the details, in a press release that can be the defining factor as to whether or not a reporter covers a story and can determine whether or not a press release stands out enough to lead to an in-person interview.

3. Writing skills

Public relations professionals at all levels need to have solid writing skills. To succeed as a PR professional it is important to have a passion for writing and communication, and to be committed to excelling in both. You are bound to fail if you don’t. Public relations professionals are responsible for developing communication materials like; Press/News releases, Fact sheets, Feature articles, Social media messages; intended to influence the attitudes and/or behaviors of key publics.

Many employers require candidates for public relations positions to complete a writing test and provide a writing sample to demonstrate proficiency in this skill. Therefore, it is critical to understand how to craft effective messages through written communication. Today’s PR campaign incorporates a much wider variety of written (and visual) content than in the days of press releases, much of which is longer-form content or brand storytelling. In a given day we may be called to write web copy, a white paper, or a strategy document.

4. Building Relationships

A good public relations professional focuses on building relationships with the clients, companies and the media. Work out what audiences you are interested in reaching. Is it the general public, the financial community, your peers, customers and relevant media. Make a list of the most important people to build relationships with.

Work out which media reach your target audiences. Trim the list so that you can actually communicate effectively with everyone who is on it. It’s better to have a short list of highly focused targets that you can deal with personally than a long, impersonal, catch-all list that gets no attention at all.

Stay in touch with your preferred media preferably by email, occasionally by phone. Keep sending in ideas. Don’t be put off if nobody calls back. Most editors get hundreds of press releases via emails a day so they won’t reply to every single one. Be clear about why you’re calling / emailing and use the subject line of the email to say so.

Editors will pay more attention to company executives than PR people.

Don’t be hurt if they don’t use an interview or publish your story and don’t harass them to do so. Editors can be a good place to start, but sometimes making contact with writers especially good, friendly freelancers can be more effective.

5. Flexibility

You can plan and be as prepared as possible, but in reality there is no guarantee things will go smoothly. I realized that learning this lesson in real life translates seamlessly to my career in public relations. This industry is a solid example of having to change plans whenever there is need.

Flexibility means having a back up plan. So you have drafted the perfect pitch, researched the publications and reporters you want to target, and now you are ready to spread the word. But what happens if you pitch all your prospective reporters and get no response? This can get discouraging, but do not let it get you down, the right reporter is out there. Follow up with a phone call many times you can get great information by just picking up the phone. If you are still without a response of any kind, head back to the drawing board, research additional reporters and gauge their interest.

A fruitful career in PR requires that a professional maintains a firm grasp of the product they are promoting because that is what makes them invaluable to clients, journalists, analysts, and everyone else seeking information.


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