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Sure, digital is an integral part of PR, but that doesn’t mean face-to-face communication is obsolete.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).

5 Transferable PR Skills You (Probably) Already Have

In college, I read a quote that remains with me to this day: “You already have everything you need to get everything you want in life.” This mantra is especially relevant to new PR professionals. Whether you’re new to the workforce in general or facing a career switch, you likely have the foundational skills to become successful in a public relations career. Keep in mind that public relations professionals come from a variety of undergraduate majors and career backgrounds. Broad disciplines like English, marketing, communications and business equip prospective public relations pros with a strong repertoire of transferable skills to earn a place in the field.

The five transferable skills you can leverage to land your first public relations job or continue building your career are as follows:

1. Writing

Versatile writing ability is invaluable as a new pro. Whether you need to craft a press release or pitch your client’s latest and greatest product, writing ranks at the top of public relations must-have aptitudes. If you can write well, you can own the world.

2. Relationship-Building

Success in this industry relies on networking and cultivating long-term relationships with an array of constituencies: members of the media, clients, prospects, colleagues, partner agencies, other internal teams and referral sources. You never know who’s listening, and you never know who can help you find your next lead. If you’re hot on the job search trail, attend PRSA Chapter events to meet and greet local pros. Be authentic. More importantly, be a good listener. When networking, don’t try to get as many business cards as possible. Focus on the quality of interactions rather than the quantity. Do your best to take mental notes about people you meet and jot them down in your phone after you leave the event. If you had one or two meaningful conversations, re-introduce yourself on LinkedIn. Personalize the interaction with a reminder about who you are and where you met. You never know where those connections may lead.

3. News Junkie Status

Attention to current events and news media is imperative in public relations. If you already follow relevant trends and stories in your industry, you’re ahead of the curve. Use your “news junkie status” to demonstrate your knowledge as you build relationships. Keep track of stories that pertain to your job, to the job you want or to your clients. Knowing what’s hot in your industry will help people remember you and even earn you recognition as the in-house current events guru.

4. Sales & Negotiation

You may not realize it, but you use negotiation skills on a daily basis. You bargain or compromise with your partner, roommate, friends and family about where to go to dinner, how to delegate household chores or ways to get what you want. Maybe you worked in customer service at some point. These experiences involve sales and negotiating, which are valuable in any field but especially in public relations. In order to build relationships, win clients and pitch the media, you must sell a brand story. At every turn in public relations, you will negotiate to get what you want. Take advantage of easy opportunities to sell your ideas during your daily routine. Even better, get your hands on The Negotiation Phrasebook by Angelique Pinet to really round out those skills.

5. Project Management

Think back to times when you collaborated on a team project. In order to succeed, you demonstrated follow-through, organization and attention to detail. You balanced several tasks simultaneously and took your project over the finish line by a certain date. In the same way, success in public relations hinges on the ability to create and implement strategy and often, to do so on short notice. Experience collaborating on teams and executing tasks independently will serve you well as a new pro.

What other transferable skills should new PR pros highlight during their job search? If you’re already churning it out in a full-time position, which skills did you use to get a foot in the door?


 Jamie M. Curtis is a writer and publicist. In 2013, she launched WHITE HORIZON PR, a boutique agency focused on public relations and content strategy for emerging brands. Currently, she is building a portfolio of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle clients across the U.S. WHITE HORIZON PR serves many clients virtually and has locations in Beverly Hills, CA and Columbus, OH.