What skills do young PR pros need?

What skills do young PR pros need-If you want to excel in the PR world, it’s time to think beyond the classroom.

(Uh oh. I can already hear some angry rumblings from my former professors…)

I’ll admit, the skills you learn in your PR classes are vital. They’ve helped me understand strategy, ROI, media relations and much more.

(Phew. Now my next campus visit won’t be so awkward.)

But today’s PR pros need more than the basics. Even if you have a progressive professor teaching integrated PR, there’s still no way you can learn every single new marketing skill in one semester, or even four years.

With the way this PR world is changing, it’s just not humanly possible. To stay competitive in the job market you need to be:

  • Constantly learning.
  • Subscribing to podcasts.
  • Reading blogs daily.
  • Heck, even starting your own blog.

But don’t just take my word for it. To help answer the “What skills do young PR pros need” question, I’ve aggregated tips from some leading industry experts. 

Understand the data @johnsonhui 

As a new PR pro, you’ll be heavily involved in reporting and measurement. But Johnson Hui of Edelman notes the most impressive employees can infer actionable insights from data – instead of just regurgitating numbers.

“PR professionals no longer simply grind data from press clips and media audits,” he says in Edelman’s blog post. “They need to be able to identify valuable data and tell evidence-based stories that can impact business decisions.”

Learn content marketing@GiniDietrich

In her August 2014 post, Gini suggests doing content marketing for yourself to really understand how to use it on the job. Get started with a personal blog on Tumblr, WordPress or Blogger.

I started my own PR blog last year, and the insights I’ve gleaned have been tremendous. I researched and uncovered entirely new social and syndication tools to help my content get found, which, in turn, is used to help my clients amplify their own content.

Bonus tip: If you’re thinking to yourself “I have nothing to write about!” check out another Gini post on generating blog post ideas.

Speak publicly – confidently @RachelAMiller

Sure, digital is an integral part of PR, but that doesn’t mean face-to-face communication is obsolete. Not by a long shot.

Rachel Miller of PR 20|20 notes that public speaking is the number one fear in the U.S. (Yes, number *one* above disgusting spiders or 50-legged silverfish bugs – my arch enemies). But, whether you’re sharing ideas during internal meetings or presenting a Q2 or annual plan to clients, public speaking is a necessity.

To beef up your public speaking skills – and calm those jitters – Rachel suggests finding local speech classes, clubs or even making toasts at family functions like weddings. (Look no further than Michael Scott for this inspiration.)

Look for trends, not just hits @Julia_Sahin 

In her post “10 things young PR pros need to STOP doing to get ahead,” Julia tells young PR pros to look for trends hidden within clients’ stories and industries. It’s easy to find client coverage and call it a day, but the PR pros who find the underlying trends are the PR pros who excel.

“Picking up the patterns and interests of reporters, publications and blogs and identifying opportunities is one of the most valuable skills in the industry,” she says in the post on Muckrack. “Start this practice early and you’ll be a real pro before you know it.”

Understand the media landscape@allenmireles

Despite the ongoing PR changes, one traditional tactic remains integral to the industry: media relations. The third-party credibility is irreplaceable, says Allen.

But today’s media relations looks quite different than media relations 10 years ago. We now have blogger and influencer relations under that media umbrella. To stay updated on the media landscape, you must read, watch and listen to the news. And better yet, get your news from a variety of outlets.

This knowledge will get you far in the interview process and on the job.

PR is a constantly evolving industry.  To get ahead of the pack, you’ll need to make sure these skills (plus those described in the subhead hyperlinks, which I strongly suggest reading) are part of your PR repertoire.

And now, it’s your turn: What must-have PR skills would you add to this list?

Stephanie VermillionStephanie Vermillion is a senior account executive at Wordsworth Communications, a public relations agency in Cincinnati. She is the PRSA National New Professionals blog co-chair, and is on the PRSA Cincinnati Leadership Team. Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn and Twitter (@SMVermillion).

Five PR Tips From Taylor Swift

Five PR tips from Taylor Swift

Image from Canva.com

A pop princess may be the last person you’d expect to look up to as a public relations professional, but Taylor Swift is definitely doing something right. Between buzzing up constant media attention, building a loyal fan base, and staying true to her strengths, there’s a lot we can learn from Taylor about being a successful communicator.

She knows her brand. Crossing over to full-fledged pop could have spelled career disaster, but Taylor stayed true to herself by making the switch.

Be like Taylor: Spend time learning the voice of each of your clients and you’ll be able to decide the best ways and places to tell their stories.

She’s a conversationalist. Taylor has crazy follower counts across the board, but she’s not just broadcasting on social. She’s truly interacting with her fans! With so many people talking, it’s hard to actually hear anything these days.

Be like Taylor: Running a brand’s social media? Pull a page from Taylor’s playbook and reply to fans posts, seek out conversations via hashtag searches, and be proactive in your interactions. Use your personal Twitter to build relationships with media. In other words, be social! (Click to Tweet)

She offers the exclusive. Before her latest album dropped last fall, Taylor held secret listening parties across the world with 89 of her biggest fans at each event. Fans were invited to get a first listen to 1989 in Taylor’s very own homes. Hearing the album ahead of time didn’t dull the excitement around the release: these select fans were even more thrilled to see her music finally debut weeks later.

Be like Taylor:  Have a great story brewing? Reach out to one of those contacts you’ve built a relationship with and offer it as an exclusive. Between the 24-hour news cycle and a saturated media market, breaking a story has become just as rare as a Taylor Swift listening party. Working together on an exclusive can benefit both you and your contact. You’ll secure a great coverage hit while your contact gets to lead the media frenzy.

She knows what’s trending and how it aligns with her brand. She uses news angles to her advantage to ensure she’s being talked about. When Tumblr went crazy over the Becky meme, Taylor was spotted the very next week in a “no it’s becky” tee.

Be like Taylor: Consume a variety of media every day so you know what’s hot and how you can be a part of the story.

She shakes it off. At the end of the day, not every relationship, song lyric, or pitch is going to work. Taylor doesn’t stress about the things that don’t fit – she’s able to kick back and poke fun at herself for every faux pas.

Be like Taylor: Take what you learn from every experience and use it to be better the very next day.

We all know Taylor’s talents are countless! What other PR lessons have you learned from Taylor Swift? Share below!

 IMG_0011.JPGChristine Perez is an Account Executive at The S3 Agency, a boutique advertising, social media, and public relations agency in Northern New Jersey. She has a wide array of experience with CPG products on both the agency and client sides. In her free time, she volunteers with a local animal rescue as a communication strategist and pet foster. Tweet with her @ICtine or connect with her on LinkedIn.


Why Training for a Half Marathon Will Make You Better at Your Job

Image via Thorpe Triathlon

Image via Thorpe Triathlon

I was skeptical at first, too. Running for anything besides the mall during a scarf sale wasn’t something I previously enjoyed, let alone dedicated my precious free time to. But when someone made a bet that I couldn’t run the entire Great Wall of China Half Marathon, I accepted the challenge and got my butt into gear. And after successfully running two half marathons this year, this is what I’ve found:

Image via Thorpe Triathlon

1)   Distance running improves your time management.

When you work at an agency, you learn very quickly that you only have 18 waking hours in the day (give or take a few). Then, as you attempt to squeeze in time for a 9+ mile run, you begin playing a mental game of “The Price Is Right” and become an expert at estimating how long something will take you, to the minute. Need I explain how useful this will be at work?

2)   It forces you to get creative.

Speaking of time; what do you think you think about when you’re running for 60 minutes? Once you get past the torturous part of training, your breathing regulates and your mind is free to wander towards ideas you may have never pondered before. While I am a big advocate in preserving a life outside of work, this is a time when I say just let your thoughts flow. Maybe a song on your playlist or a billboard you jog past sparks a great idea for a client. Or perhaps during this time away from outside pressures you finally unlock a solution to a problem you’ve been having. Either way, you will discover a way to entertain yourself, and it usually isn’t counting pavement squares.

3)   Patience is a muscle that strengthens with use.

It is widely agreed by experts that you shouldn’t increase your mileage by more than half of a mile per week as to avoid injury. With that in mind, when creating your training schedule you must be deliberate, strategic and realistic in setting your goals. Sound anything like creating a PR plan?

You’ll learn that baby-steps, though small, meaningful steps forward. You’ll more easily acknowledge and accept your limits and find ways to work with them rather than try to hide them. Patience is a virtue that is essentially a public relations job requirement. Because we all know, PR is a marathon not a sprint.

4)   Stress (and desserts) are no longer an issue.

Stress is a simple word that for most people causes a lot of anxiety. However, I find that having pre-designated training times throughout the week lets me easily pour out my frustrations on the pavement, helping transform my anger into focused energy (a great skill for the workplace). In fact, I recommend running angry! You’ll run harder, faster and with more determination. And by the end of it, you will be too exhausted to carry that extra baggage all of the way back home, or to the office.

5)   The rule of inertia.

The rule of inertia: every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion UNLESS an external force is applied.

Newton was spot on with this one. Get up and get moving! Life isn’t a spectator sport. The more active you become outside of work, the more energy you’ll have during work. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. An active free time will be the external force to propel your career to the next level.

6)   It’ll toughen you up.

Everyone almost brags about how PR is “the most stressful” job, but not a lot of discussion is devoted to the emotional toll PR can have on its greener members. You will face rejection. A lot. Rejection during the application process, rejection from the media, rejection from the client… It’s everywhere, and you’ll need to have a strong sense of self in order to thrive in this business. Distance running will both literally and figuratively thicken your skin and force you to develop a mental toughness that will help the no’s in life just roll off of your shoulder.

7)   The importance of quality time with me, myself and I.

During your training you will spend a lot of time by yourself. Sure you might have a running buddy keep you company every so often, but unless you are one of those fitness freaks of nature (you know the ones, having a full conversation while running uphill in 90 degree heat), the majority of the time will be spent silent with only the sound of your thoughts. You will, by mere force and repetition, truly get to know yourself. And as your run farther and faster, succeeding in your goals, you will learn to trust yourself. This is important. When you trust yourself, you believe in yourself, and we all know how essential confidence is in this profession. You won’t be afraid to share that “stupid idea” or second-guess your writing. You have confidence and trust that what you’re doing is your best. And THAT, is everything.


Megan Nicole O'Neal headshotMegan O’Neal graduated from UCLA in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, emphasizing in mass communications. She is currently the PR Coordinator at Marketing Design Group and volunteers with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, freelancing for the public relations department. Connect with her on Twitter @megannenicole.  

Networking: Keeping Contacts as a New Professional

YBusiness Meetingou studied hard, joined PRSSA, did multiple internships, networked, graduated, networked some more and got a job. Phew! Now, you no longer have to worry about your LinkedIn activity, participate in that Twitter chat or attend local industry events, right? Wrong!

In case you haven’t already figured it out, the PR industry is like a big small-town. There aren’t six degrees of separation, in many cases there are barely three. It seems everyone knows everyone (or knows someone who knows someone). This tight-knittedness is capable of swinging the pendulum in your favor–or not. The choice, really, is yours.

How do you hold on to that network you’ve worked so hard to build? How do you continue to build that network, and make it work for you?

  1.  My first suggestion is to not just attend your PRSA chapter meetings, but volunteer and get involved. As current president of the PRSA-St. Louis Chapter, I can tell you that having new pros on our committees are just as important as having senior pros. You provide a different perspective, and we need all viewpoints represented. In addition, You will work side-by-side with seasoned pros, who will get to know your solid work ethic first-hand and meet people you may have not have had access to otherwise. Volunteering is work, and creates work experience.
  2.  Participate in Twitter chats. Not just #NPPRSA, but other industry-related chats, such as #PRprochat started by Carrie Morgan, or the #SoloPR chat spearheaded by Kellye Crane. Not only may you meet your next recruit, but many senior pros participate in those chats as well. Doing this keeps you in front of your network, expands your network, and may even provide informational content you can later expand into a blog post!
  3.  Join applicable LinkedIn groups and participate in the discussions. Don’t feel like you can’t contribute if you don’t know the answers–ask questions, there may be others with the same question.
  4.  I’m sure you have certain industry-leading blogs to which you subscribe. Don’t just read those posts, comment and reply to other comments. Add value to the community. Warning: be careful to not over-do it; you don’t want to comes across as a stalker.
  5. Finally, swinging back to #1 – involvement in your local PR organization. You should at least set a goal of attending one event per quarter (4 per year).  And, don’t just attend make a point of introducing yourself to at least three new people at each event. Then, within a couple days of the event, connect with them on LinkedIn—reminding them where you met and thanking them for the conversation, then follow-up. The follow-up doesn’t have to be often but does need to be pertinent and professional.

A case in point: a while back I wrote a post on mentoring for BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog. In it, I mentioned that Lori George Billingsley, director of issues communications at The Coca-Cola Company and past PRSA Multicultural Communications Section chair, claims her mentor has been instrumental in helping her secure all of the PR jobs she’s held.  That’s a pretty powerful testament to her networking, diligence and professionalism!

There’s no doubt that social media makes it much easier to keep in touch with people. However, no matter how much you keep in touch electronically, nothing beats face-to-face conversations to build your network!

Share what you’re doing to build and strengthen your network in the comments below.

Tressa RobbinsTressa Robbins is Implementation Vice President at BurrellesLuce, to ensure successful onboarding of major accounts with traditional and social media monitoring, media contacts and press release distribution, as well as reporting and analytics. She is the president of the PRSA St. Louis chapter, a PRSSA mentor, professional advisor to the Southeast Missouri State PRSSA chapter, and serves on Southeast’s Mass Media Department Professional Advisory Council as well as teaches a special topics course this semester. You may follow and connect with her on Twitter.