Jul 25, 2018 / in Comms Best Practices / by Cision Contributor

In many ways, the “PR specialist” has to play the role of a Swiss Army knife in business communications. Getting a brand’s message out to the world in a way that captivates people is no simple task.

Many new businesses have the misconception that PR is a form of “free advertising.” For this reason, the importance of a skilled PR specialist tends to go unnoticed. 

In advertising, brands have a certain degree of control with their messaging. PR, on the other hand, is much more unpredictable. There are many elements involved in making sure a message sparks meaningful conversations. Given that we are living in an age of constant connectedness, brands need to contribute regularly to industry chatter.

PR specialists need to have in-depth insider knowledge on everything related to:

  • The target customers
  • Common pain points and interests
  • The context of each message
  • How the competition is making waves
  • The latest news

Above all this, here are three areas in particular that all PR specialists should be up to scratch in.

1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Consistency is the most important aspect of creating PR messages. Moreover, they need to speak to customers on a personal and relatable level. For this to happen, PR, sales, and marketing teams need to be on the same page from A to Z.

CRM keeps tabs on everything like email conversations, reporter interactions, pitch history, target demographics, etc. PR specialists must have precise insight as to how customer data and media relations can be managed through CRM. This is to ensure everyone within an organization is working towards common goals. For instance, companies can accomplish this by establishing a template for Salesforce training and getting everyone on board with a unified system.

By having a firm understanding of CRM, PR specialists can get a feel for the types of relationships the company has with customers, partners, media relations representatives and more. For example, in a larger firm with a bigger PR team, double pitching a reporter can easily happen. When it does, it’s a huge red flag that the company is unorganized behind the scenes. With more and more campaigns to manage, the need to keep all the important relationship data centralized and anchored is a step that must be taken very seriously.

Being well-versed in CRM is one of the most beneficial skills a PR specialist can have. Making sure all stakeholders within a company have an aligned view of campaign intelligence is the key to creating consistent and impactful messaging.

2. Social Media Monitoring

Ultimately, PR is about telling people what they want to hear in a way that prompts action.

With this in mind, social media and PR go hand in hand. A huge ingredient to a successful PR campaign is interpreting public attitudes and leveraging opinions to make a powerful impact.

Social media is an arena where people tend to speak freely and express their candid opinions. A smart social media monitoring system gives businesses the ability to listen and evaluate what people are saying about their brand, product, service, employees, industry and much more, If used correctly, this can be a valuable tool to help deliver the right message at the right time.

Take United Airlines’ infamous scandal last year, for example. The company landed in hot water when a video surfaced of security guards dragging a passenger off a plane who had been bumped off the flight – after having paid for a ticket. Shortly after the incident went viral, Delta and American Airlines announced that they had increased compensation for passengers who get bumped from their flights. While this is certainly a mainstream example, the PR specialists at Delta and American Airlines were certainly monitoring social media interactions to understand the pain points in this type of scenario. From here, the airlines were able to find a solution that not only made them look good in comparison but gave customers an incentive to fly with them.

Now, it’s important to note that monitoring social media for fruitful insights isn’t quite as simplistic as it might seem.

For a PR specialist to create powerful messages that speak to the ideal audience segment, they need more than just an understanding of how social media monitoring tools work, they must have a knack for reading between the lines and finding the type of sentiment that relates to business goals. This process involves pinpointing the patterns to form general directions on how to craft robust PR messages.

3. Brand Journalism

Brand journalism is the practice of creating journalistic-style storytelling on behalf of an organization. In the marketing world, storytelling is essential for reaching audiences on a personal level. According to Onespot, 92 percent of consumers want brands to create messages that feel like a story.

By default, a good PR specialist must be an expert storyteller. This goes well beyond just businesses. Storytelling is essential for charities, government agencies, education institutions, etc., to make more personal connections with audiences.

Airbnb does a fantastic job with brand journalism and using their messaging to tell a story. In this content, they get up close and personal about what it’s like to travel and feel like a local:

Knowing how to present brand messaging in a positive light that inspires (like Airbnb did in the video above) is an art form. The goal is to use narrative to create common ground between viewers and the brand.

This type of brand journalism is not just a fancy content marketing option anymore; it is an absolute must in building a brand through PR. The overarching result of good brand journalism is consumer trust, which in turn, leads to loyalty.


The face of PR is changing. The name of the game is having an actionable understanding of industry news and sentiment analysis to predict trends and prevent crises. Successful PR specialists understand the relationships between the brand and its customers, media representatives and the framework of campaigns. From here, social media monitoring (and an eye for spotting patterns) is critical to understanding consumer sentiment and opinions. Most importantly, a specialist is tasked with pulling all this knowledge together to create stories that make a profound impact on viewers.

PR specialists play an essential role in making sure interested eyes see the most relevant messaging. When it comes to developing a brand through PR, there are many traits needed in a successful individual. However, these three should be apparent from day one.

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About Avinash Nair

Avinash Nair is a digital marketer at E2M, India's premium content marketing agency. He specializes in Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing Marketing services. You can find him on Twitter: @AviNair52

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