Top Skills Every PR Pro Needs

28 Feb

If you’re a junior or senior, you’ve most likely begun preparing to enter the workplace. But how can we, as Communication majors, make ourselves more marketable and gain a competitive edge? What do potential employers look for in new hires?

Liberty alum and successful public relations professional Traci Blido recently spoke to a group of students and gave some answers to these questions. Traci has experience in corporate PR and non-profit sectors, and she currently serves as a communications officer for Virginia’s Region 2000 Partnership. As a wife and mother of two she juggles her career with family duties and volunteer work.

Traci shared what she considers to be the most essential skills for aspiring PR practitioners to begin developing now.

Basic PR Skills

  1. Ability to plan. Can you conceptualize and execute an effective event or campaign? PR people must be able to transform a broad vision into a practical, detail-oriented plan of action.
  2. Ability to write. Many people think of PR as a profession that is all about people skills, networking and staying in the public eye. While these can be important facets of PR, nothing is as essential as a basic ability to write with an accurate, concise journalistic style. Start brushing up now by taking classes in copy editing and reporting – and by reading all that you can!
  3. Fluent in modern communication tools. As young professionals entering the PR realm, Traci assured us that the social media duties of our future workplaces will most likely fall on us. Start familiarizing yourself with emerging technologies and platforms. It’s never too soon to begin figuring out what works and what doesn’t in the world of social media.
  4. Basic understanding of SEO. Search engine optimization (SEO) is becoming more crucial every day, and we need to be able to create keyword-rich text and strategically enhance the reach of our online content.
  5. Ability to create successful content. Of course, what’s the point of increasing traffic to your webpage if it is not meaningful or relevant to your target publics[ja1] ? We need to craft our words (online and in print media) in such a way that people will remember what we’ve said – and keep coming back for more.

Intangible Skills

  1. Curiosity. An inquisitive mind is important, and this is not confined to career-related topics. A successful PR practitioner will find himself constantly wanting to learn more about unknown or emerging issues – and will have the follow-through to do some research, becoming more knowledgeable and well-rounded. Remember, a PR person is really in two professions at once. He must know the tricks of his own trade, but he also must know the jargon and dynamics of whatever industry his company or client represents.
  2. Storytelling ability. Do you have a knack for turning mundane details into an entertaining or compelling story? If so, you’ve got an invaluable advantage. Practice your storytelling, both verbally and in your writing, because this skill will take you far in PR, advertising, journalism… and just about any other communications-related industry.
  3. The gift of gab. A communications career will put you in all kinds of situations with all sorts of diverse people. A successful PR person can keep a conversation going with anyone, regardless of circumstances. Improve your people skills by learning to show a sincere interest in others – and if you have nothing to say, ask some questions!
  4. Personal networking. Everyone you meet is a resource. You never know where a job opportunity or learning experience will pop up. Start gleaning all you can from the people with whom you come in contact.
  5. Business sense. You don’t have to be a financial wizard or a CEO, but having a good knack for business, leadership and critical thinking is key. Business functions like marketing and human resources management also are closely interrelated to PR functions.
  6. Good judgment. Practitioners have to make snap decisions with little warning, and these choices often have long-lasting consequences. Good judgment takes time to develop, but you can begin now by taking on more decision-making responsibilities and surrounding yourself with wise and experienced people.

These skills don’t come overnight; they take hard work and practice. But the sooner you begin, the sooner you will be on your way to reaching your potential in the PR world!

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