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:
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.
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.
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.