Public Relations is a field that has a large impact on the decisions that the public makes. However, being in the public relations field isn’t easy. If you are preparing for a career in PR, here are some important skills to have to be a successful professional.
Public Relations professionals are tasked with communicating with various groups of people. This can range from the client, their media contacts, and the public. Whether it’s writing a press release, pitching to a client, or emailing coworkers, you need to be able to effectively communicate with others. A message is only as good as the way it is communicated. Specifically, you need to be a good writer. This means not having any errors and making sure you are able to edit your own work, especially when on a tight deadline. Poor grammar and spelling look unprofessional to supervisors and the public.
Do what you say and say what you mean. People will be confused if, for instance, one day you are promoting animal rights and the next day you are promoting a cosmetic company that tests on animals. A PR plan is nothing without consistency. You need to have one voice for an organization to show that everyone is working together, which in turn, makes a stronger brand.
People assume the worst when nothing is said. If a mistake was made by your organization or your client, the best thing you can do is address it, even if this means admitting you were wrong. Being up front saves time and effort trying to fix a lie or silence. People might react negatively in the first place, but after time people will respect your honesty as a professional.
Unlike many other fields of work, PR allows people to think outside the box. You need to be able to come up with way that meets your audience’s needs, while being unique. People are drawn to things that are different, so if you have a new idea that fits your audience, then go for it! Don’t be afraid to test the boundaries occasionally.
Listening can be just as important, or more, than communicating. Before even communicating, you need to make sure you are listening to your audience’s needs. Also, you need to listen and pay attention to current events and see if that relates to what you are currently working on. This is especially important if this current event could have an influence on your client. In example, if your client is Tide, it would be important to know about the recently trending “tide pod challenge,” so you can address it as soon as possible.
There is no exact formula for how much of each of these skills every PR professional should have. However, it is wise to have at least a little of each to make sure that you are well prepared for what you are getting yourself into. I’d like to tell you to fake it ‘til you make it, but that only gets you so far, so practice these skills now and you’ll be a pro before you know it!
Noelle Hobbs is a junior from Macomb, MI majoring in Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Writing and in Digital Studies. She is the Vice President of Standards of her sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi. In her free time, Noelle enjoys playing tennis, reading, watching movies, and spending time with friends and family.