You’ll change lives, slay dragons, love the hunt more than you ever dreamed because Olivia Pope is as amazing as they say.
And, uh I’m not a baby lawyer.
I’m a gladiator in a suit, ’cause that’s what you are when you work for Olivia.
You’re a gladiator in a suit.
Do you want to be a gladiator in a suit?
You gotta say it.
I want to be a gladiator in a suit.
-Scandal episode “Sweet Baby”
The PR Professional must be as dynamic an individual as the industry. Public relations is fresh, it is changing, it is happening all around us. So what does it take to be a craftsman of today’s communication? Here are five key essentials that make up the PR Pro.
Not all PR Pros are the same. Many have diverse academic backgrounds or interests. Personality plays a part in this field with networking or having to embody the brand you represent. Some qualities employers may look for are – thick-skin, creativity, outgoing, flexibility, engaging, patient, genuine, enthusiastic and passionate.
What’s this worth to employers?
This field is not for the faint of heart. Knowing if you have the heart to work in this field is the first key to determine how successful you will be working as PR Pro. You will not succeed if rejection, working with others or immense stress is not handled well. PR Pros work long hours, always pitching ideas and working to find solutions. The PR Pro needs to be passionate about what they do to keep them moving. There are many demands for this career such as requiring you to be both left brained/right brained and a people person. Having some of the mentioned qualities will help you thrive in this business.
Read the news, follow journalists, have social media. In short: stay up-to-date on everything. It is imperative to especially know what is new with your clients and stakeholders.
To stay relevant and not fall behind, you must keep up with what is happening in the world. Subscribe to morning briefing newsletters such as the New York Times or TheSkimm. Staying informed can also help prevent a PR crisis in case you publish content in an untimely manner ( ex. using a celebrity as the face of your campaign and a scandal had just occurred ).
Tools of the trade not only include the traditional press kit, but the latest software or apps to create and launch new projects for your client. All professionals are expected to be proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel. However, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with the latest in technology. Photoshop, Canva, Hootsuite, Cision, Bitly, etc. are just a few tools PR professionals may use. Years ago things such as “Search Engine Optimization” or “Twitter Analytics” were terms that did not exist. It is best to research the latest in technology and track trends of resources PR Pros use.
Why not just stick to the basics?
A traditional news release will not cut it in this fast-paced, content hungry world. Just like current events, the latest in technology can only help you keep up and move forward.
PR Pros must be strong writers to effectively draft messages to the public. Paying attention to grammar, tone, formatting, syntax and creative messaging. Writers need to understand the goals of the client, their target audience, and how to create persuasive content.
Having effective communication skills also means being a good listener. Listen to your instincts on the direction you want a project to go and accommodate it to the needs of the clients. Listening to your cohorts and the criticism they give can help evolve your project. It can help you grow as a storyteller.
Why is this important?
As a visual storyteller, you will produce content on various channels. This can range from print, digital media, graphic design materials or social platforms. You must be able to write eloquently and have flexible writing tailored to the different platforms you will use. The messages you create must be able to deliver strong pieces of writing within a short period of time being aware of looming deadlines. A need for a press release, tweet or speech can happen at any moment and the message must be clear and concise.
Without proper comprehension of the needs of the clients or feedback from others, a PR crisis is bound to occur.
Stay curious, stay driven, stay hungry. Because this field is changing, you have to be willing to learn new things. The industry will continue to move swiftly in new directions.
It can be easy to feel discouraged and burnt out in this field if you don’t have the passion. No matter how much experience the PR Pro has, they will always keep growing in the field. If they keep an open mind and have an enthusiasm for learning more about the world around them, they will grow and evolve just like the industry itself.
A way to remember the 5 elements that make a successful PR Pro is the acronym”PITCH” ( which is also one of the many tasks we do)