October 23, 2014
/ by Allen Mireles
Sometimes it feels like the world is in free fall. The public relations industry is evolving and things we’ve been trained to do as traditional PR professionals appear to be less important than they once were.
Do you ever find yourself wondering which traits and skill sets are really important?
Of course you do. We all do.
Whether you’re planning to graduate next year, fresh out of school or someone who has worked in public relations for (what feels like) centuries, almost everyone is feeling a little anxious about what they need to know to be truly successful in 2015.
Take heart. We have compiled a list of nine traits you’ll need to be an Uber-Effective PR pro in 2015.
Having a strong sense of integrity will never become obsolete and, if anything, is more important now than ever as business becomes increasingly transparent.
“While PR doesn’t require taking any vows, swearing allegiance, or ascribing to a standardized code of ethics, The Public Relations Society of America echoes just how crucial professional integrity is to our profession as a whole,” says Crosby Noricks founder of the of the popular fashion PR blog PRCouture.com.
Demonstrating your knowledge and acceptance of the ethical boundaries you work within is essential. “Bottom line, successful public relations hinges on the ethics of its practitioners,” says PRSA.
Excellent communications skills have always been important. They will continue to be. You need to be able to display excellence in both written and spoken communications.
“Building relationships requires excellent regular and relevant communication,” says Senior Online PR Strategist Stephanie Pflaum.
You will also need to be able to make compelling presentations and demonstrate your visual literacy, as demand for visual communications increases.
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Another foundational skill that grows ever more important is your ability to focus and pay close attention to detail.
“In this field, accuracy means everything. PR professionals have developed methods to ensure their stories portray a positive image, while also containing accurate information,” says Marcom and Content Specialist Chris Pilbeam.
Whether it’s retaining specifics from an interview or using the right link in an online post or news release, attention to detail will be critical, especially as the pace of communications continues to speed up.
Having an insatiable sense of curiosity and an undying willingness to learn will only stand you in good stead in 2015. People who are curious ask questions, and the answers to those questions often lead to deeper knowledge of the truth of a situation—which can make the difference between success and failure.
As Professor Kirk Hazlett, APR says, “…for those of you either ‘veteran’ and ‘up-and-coming’ public relations professionals, ask the unasked questions … push the envelope. Be curious.”
No matter what stage of your career you’re at, you need to maintain an open mind and a strong willingness to learn new things. Adding the knowledge of SEO or video editing to your tool kit, understanding how to build relationships with bloggers or which social networks will resonate with your company’s message, are new to many PR’s.
However, as David Peveto, PR Director for The Outpost at Texas Tech University, says, “This willingness to learn will set you apart not only as a PR person, but as an employee.”
Media relations skills are still vital. While readership of print publications is declining, traditional media still holds an important place in public relations and knowing how to execute an effective media relations campaign is paramount.
Third party validation from media mentions has huge value. What will continue to change in 2015 is the inclusion of blogger and online influencer outreach as subsets of a media relations program.
The increasing use of the Internet for communications means the world is connected now as never before. Building and maintaining strong relationships and networks is essential for your continued success in 2015.
Developing the reputation as someone who knows an industry and its key players, or someone who effortlessly introduces and connects people will make you stand out.
“Successful networking is a result of being genuine and having goals. Building a wide and strong network takes years. It doesn’t come overnight, and it is a culmination of a long string of proactive efforts. The payoff — building professional connections and making personal friends along the way — is well worth it,” says PR Sharpshooter, Ruth Bazinet.
Staying on top of local, national and international current events and industry news in our fast-paced world is critical. The use of real time communications, also called newsjacking, has become increasingly valuable as a public relations and marketing tactic and can provide tremendous benefit to your company or client.
Using digital tools to monitor mentions of your company’s name or products is part of your daily responsibilities. Using real time communications to position your company as an expert source or industry leader or to share your message with new audiences only enhances your value as a PR pro.
“Whether you call it newsjacking or PR, whether you do it to get a magazine interview or a retweet, the principles are the same,” says Scott Barradell, of the public relations firm Ideagrove.
Finally? Creativity. Creativity is the secret sauce of the uber-effective PR in 2015. Creativity in the creative problem solving sense, where you take an impossible situation and provide a creative solution. Or you see what other in the room cannot see, as a way to piggyback your company’s message on a breaking news story (real time communications).
Creativity sparks new ideas. It helps generate new messaging or come up with answers to difficult situations. Creativity creates powerful campaigns and finds new ways to create bridges between industries and people.
“Creativity means different things to different people. In a public relations context, the definition of creativity can appear elusive,” say the authors of the Holmes Report in their third annual survey, “Creativity in PR”, which polls attitudes and opinions towards various key industry issues, including creative quality; definitions of creativity.
These nine traits provide the foundation for your continued success as a successful public relations professional. Embracing and highlighting each will help you bridge the gap between traditional public relations and the evolving and exciting new world or PR we’ll experience in 2015.
What are some traits that you think PR pros need in the New Year?
Allen Mireles is a strategist with an affinity for technology who lives/works at the intersection of social media and traditional marketing/public relations. Want to read more from Allen? Click here!
Image: Chris, Fletcher Prince, Ed Schipul (Creative Commons)
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