Seven Skills Every Public Relations Professional Should Have

What Skills Are Essential for Public Relations Professionals? 7 Experts Share Their Thoughts

Public relations professionals need an array of skills to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of media and communication. But which abilities are truly essential for success? To find out, we asked experts in the field.

Their insights offer a roadmap for educators and students alike, highlighting the key competencies that aspiring PR specialists should focus on. From prioritizing personalized communication to understanding the nuances of digital platforms, these skills can set a PR professional apart in a competitive industry:

1. Prioritize Personalized Communication

Based on my experience, one of the most important skills a PR professional should have is communication. It is important to effectively communicate with different types of people, considering everyone’s unique personalities, backgrounds, and interests. Establishing relationships with journalists, agencies, team members, and other stakeholders is crucial. 

In today’s digital age, where we spend a significant amount of time behind screens, we must remember that we are interacting with real people. Simple gestures such as inquiring about someone’s week or showing interest in their work demonstrate a personalized approach and that you have taken the time to understand and acknowledge them. These small actions help build relationships and make you more memorable compared to those who simply send standard emails every day.

Viktorija Armoniene, PR & Communications Manager, carVertical

2. Synchronize PR with Current News Cycles

Timing and news awareness are foundational for any public relations specialist aiming for success. The ability to synchronize PR campaigns with the current news cycle shows an understanding of the market’s pulse, enhancing the relevance and impact of your content.

This skill is not just about being topical; it’s about strategic forecasting and ensuring that the PR efforts today remain pertinent tomorrow. Mastering this aspect of PR can significantly boost a specialist’s employability, positioning them as an invaluable asset in navigating the ever-evolving media landscape.

Marco Genaro Palma, Content Marketing Manager, PRLab

3. Combine Adaptability with Strategic Planning

A successful public relations specialist should possess various skills; the two most crucial are adaptability and strategic thinking. Here’s why. 

Public relations is an ever-evolving field, where emerging crises and the reaction of the environment and media to a company’s actions are sometimes unpredictable. An adaptable PR specialist can navigate these unexpected challenges, adjusting communication and recalibrating strategies to suit circumstances and audience behaviors. Here, adaptability saves a brand’s image. 

Strategic thinking, in turn, complements adaptability. Strategically analyzing the situation and seeing the bigger picture allows PR professionals to formulate comprehensive plans, ensuring that all actions taken align with the overall brand narrative and contribute to long-term objectives.

Adaptability and strategic thinking form a skill set that empowers public relations specialists to lead and shape the narrative in a rapidly changing media environment.

Nina Paczka, Community Manager, MyPerfectResume

4. Balance Positive Image and Problem-Solving

Maintaining a positive public image, keeping up with the goings-on, and rightly balancing everything that concerns your stakeholders is crucial. Whether it’s creating a brand image or simply keeping your public image strong and authentic, hiring the right PR specialist makes sense. 

Excellent communication skills and strong oratory abilities are a must that any PR specialist must possess. Since it’s all about communication, this aspect cannot be compromised. The style in which you communicate, the degree to which you use it, and everything in between matters when you have to showcase your positive image. 

Additionally, what matters the most is how excellent the specialist can prove to be when it comes to problem-solving and decision-making. There are several instances when companies find themselves in situations that might portray a bit of a downside. These are the times when manipulating it all for good and finding solutions to balance the situation becomes crucial.

PR specialists must possess a high presence of mind and quick decision-making instincts to not let the company down. These two qualities are the pillar qualities and skills you must look for in a PR specialist.

Stefan Campbell, Owner, The Small Business Blog

5. Master Digital Communication and Social Media

In the digital age, I believe mastery over digital communication channels and social media platforms is indispensable for PR specialists. This encompasses understanding the nuances of each platform, engaging with audiences in real time, and using digital tools to amplify messages and monitor brand sentiment. The ability to integrate digital strategies with traditional PR efforts ensures a comprehensive approach to brand storytelling and audience engagement, crucial for maintaining relevance and visibility online.

Jim Pendergast, Senior Vice President, altLINE

6. Utilize Contemporary PR Tools and Platforms

As someone who works in a digital marketing and PR agency, I’d say that proficiency in using contemporary tools and platforms is critical. Tools like MuckRack, HubSpot, and PRFire enable PR specialists to streamline their workflow, from media outreach to press release distribution and campaign analysis.

For me, familiarity with such tools not only optimizes the reach and impact of PR campaigns but also helps professionals stay competitive in an industry that’s rapidly shifting away from traditional methods. The knowledge of these resources is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity to navigate the sophisticated ecosystem of modern public relations.

Tristan Harris, Demand Generation Senior Marketing Manager, Thrive Digital Marketing Agency

7. Craft Compelling Stories with Ethical Judgment

The ability to convey a story is crucial. The ability to craft captivating stories that resonate with viewers is essential. It’s about more than simply making a sale; it’s about making an emotional connection, creating a brand identity, and fostering customer loyalty.

Sound ethical judgment is essential for successful public relations. Integrity, privacy, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are complex issues that necessitate a firm sense of right and wrong. Decisions made by public relations professionals must maintain honesty and trust while balancing company objectives with the public interest.

John Butterworth, Founder and CEO, 10k Schools

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