“Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.” Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Whether you begin your PR career in-house as a Public Relations Intern for a fashion brand, or as a Junior Account Executive in a consultancy working with a multitude of clients across different industry sectors; whatever path you take, there are a few skills that those looking to build a career in PR will need in order to be successful…
The skills needed for a successful career in PR
1. Communication and people skills
Working in Public Relations, your role will in some way involve meeting and networking with groups of people, giving presentations, and liaising with journalists – so being able to communicate well, and confidently, with different types of people is really important. Those who are naturally sociable, friendly and approachable will be good at this crucial aspect of PR.
Not only is it imperative to be able to communicate well verbally to get your point across effectively, but PR practitioners also need to have excellent writing skills. A large part of your job remit will probably revolve around writing press releases, magazine articles, social media content, or putting together case studies/presentations. Good attention to detail will also come hand-in-hand with this as you may be required to proof other people’s work too.
PR is not for the faint-hearted. It is likely that being in public relations, you may get ‘shot down’ a few times – whether it’s a negative end to a pitch/meeting or bad feedback on a campaign…developing a thick skin and resilience will help you recover, learn and come back stronger next time.
Frequent deadlines in PR can result in high stress-levels and pressure. You may be required to work long hours in order to meet a deadline or deal with an unexpected/difficult situation. So being able to keep a level-head under pressure is a really useful trait to have.
PR roles can be incredibly varied. A good PR person will be a versatile, all-rounder, with the ability to multi-task in order to organise a busy workload and meet deadlines. PR is ‘the industry that never sleeps’ so if you’re looking for a 9 to 5 job, PR might not be for you. You may often find yourself starting early, finishing late, or having to work at the weekends.
Your PR role is likely to involve juggling multiple projects/clients at once, as well liaising with the media, handling a crisis and various other day-to-day responsibilities…with so much going on, you need to be able to organise your time effectively.
4. Interest in the media
If you are going to be successful then you need to know your company/client, the industry, and the media like the back of your hand!
A good PR person will keep up-to-date with news and current affairs, and will enjoy learning about new markets. Keeping in touch with the world around you will prove to be crucial when you’re required to advise clients or brainstorm campaign ideas. You should read, watch and listen to everything; if you are naturally inquisitive you’ll be good at this aspect of PR.
Today’s PR pros need to have an understanding and interest in all digital and social media channels.
In recent years, social media has had an effect on the PR industry as we used to know it. Digital media has shortened the life span of news stories, meaning journalists need to generate stories much more quickly, and as a result this has forced PR pros to have to keep up. Cision UK’s ‘Social PR Study 2015’ revealed that only 8% of PRs now meet with journalists face-to-face, and social media is now the third most common method used to contact journalists (after email and telephone). As part of the research, 82% of PRs indicated that social media has changed the work they do to some extent.
The likes of photos, videos, infographics, websites, apps etc. have become increasingly important in PR. And as such, coming into PR with knowledge/abilities in these areas could help you stand out from the rest. For example, knowing how to edit an image or a video, or being able to use WordPress websites are all desirable skills.
If you’re looking to make a career move, have a look at our current communications and PR jobs
We’d also be keen to hear of any other skills you would add to this list!