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Want PR Success? Don’t Fear Expanding Your KSAs

Let’s face it. Thanks to social media and digital tools, the world of marketing and public relations is evolving faster than ever.

In 2015 we will all be expected to add to our KSA’s (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities). To stay relevant, to stay employed, to be hired, and to provide effective solutions for our clients, we must continue learning and developing.

“Public relations professionals are known for their proactive attitudes, perseverance in pitching the media, a thick skin when it comes to rejection and the ability to build relationships, as well as their great oral and written skills,” writes Pure Performance Communications CEO Deirdre Breakenridge in a post for PRSA.

“These are all important KSAs you need to be successful in public relations. However, social media has changed the way that public relations professionals approach the strategy and implementation of their public relations programs. Today, social media requires that we expand our KSAs for continued success in our public relations roles.”

True But Scary?

We know what Deirdre said is true, even as we fear starting at the beginning again to add to our KSA’s. Who wants to be a “newbie”? Especially those of us who have worked for many years at our craft and kind of appreciate being seen as people who know what we’re doing. Starting all over as a rookie can be embarrassing, especially when you’re still learning, tentatively try something new, and, make a mistake.

Why do I say this? Because I just made a beginner mistake that made me feel like an idiot.

Want to see a list of tools that will help you achieve your goals? Watch Kellye Crane’s on-demand webinar now!

Surviving a Newbie Error

Michelangelo - PR KSAs

After writing a post about the many creative ways the PR industry is using Flipboard, the virtual magazine app, I decided to join the fray and start learning how to use it myself.

I tiptoed into the app and started following a few of the people who know more than I do, created one or two public magazines around topics I’m interested in, and a few I kept private for the time being.

I began to start my day, over coffee, by scanning the Flipboard’s Daily Edition (news and posts of interest curated by the Flipboard team) and sharing, or “flipping” some of the posts to my social network profiles.

So far, so good.

One day, as I cruised through the Daily Edition photo picks, I saw a charming gif of snow falling and decided to share it, with a comment about how much I wished the snow would fall again in our area. I clicked the icon for sharing and sent the gif to my Facebook profile.

A short while later, I checked my Facebook profile, and was quietly appalled to see, not the gif of snow falling, but a photograph from the recent Pakistani school massacre, complete with my inane comment about wishing for snow.


Somehow, in my newbie blunderings, I had shared an entire collection and not just one specific image. The photo that showed up was graphic and tragic and entirely inappropriate for the comment I posted above it. I was mortified and quickly deleted the file. Then posted an explanation about my mistake.

With a red face I sailed back to Flipboard to learn more about how to share posts to social networks and magazines without blundering. Not so hard, as it turns out and I won’t be making that particular mistake again.

And? The world didn’t end. My moment of looking foolish (only one of so many during the years I have focused on integrating social and digital into traditional marketing and public relations work) passed almost unnoticed and without comment from people in my network.

Thank goodness. And with apologies to anyone who briefly saw my faux pas.

The Importance of Trying New Things

2015 Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained - PR KSAs

I found myself thinking about the importance of trying new things—without being so afraid of making a mistake. Today, we have to be willing to learn new skills, hone our abilities and add to our knowledge bases.

If we’re held by back by being afraid of looking foolish, or of trying something new, we won’t stand a chance of staying abreast of the waves of new ideas, practices and technology. Businesses across the world are being transformed. The ways we communicate as professionals, and as private citizens, are changing too.

We have no choice but to dive in, learn and try new things. 

Where to Focus in Building KSA’s

Do you wonder what areas you should be focusing on building in 2015? In her PRSA post, Deirdre identifies seven key categories where KSA’s need to expand including:

  • Strategic Thinking
  • Acting as a Liaison
  • Serving as Advanced Researcher
  • Demonstrating Versatility in Writing
  • Excelling at Relationship Building
  • Being a Technological Thinker
  • Displaying Expertise in Risk Management and Crisis Communications

Interested in learning more? Visit the PRSA post, find Deirdre’s recommendations or Pure Performance Communications. I love to read Deirdre’s recommendations and find myself regularly inspired to stretch based on her writing.

It’s Hard—But You Can Do It!

For some of us, this will feel uncomfortable. It is hard at first to take yourself back to the beginning, learn new skills, rules and then try them out. But you can do it. I have, repeatedly, and have made a complete fool of myself on a number of occasions.

I steadfastly grab myself by the virtual scruff and kick myself back into the learning process until I can demonstrate mastery (or some semblance thereof). And, if I can do this? You can too.

Here’s to the new learning in 2015!

Image: Anne Davis 773  (Creative Commons)

About Allen Mireles

Allen Mireles is a strategist and wordsmith with an affinity for technology. She lives at the intersection of social media and traditional marketing and public relations and never gets enough time in the garden. Find her on Twitter @allenmireles.

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