The Most Valuable Public Relations Skills

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Traditional public relations (PR) skills like top-notch writing and media relations will never fade, and perhaps they're more important than ever in today's fractured media market. But, additional skills are important in your toolbox as well, like social media content creation and curation, analytics, SEO, and programming skills to create and analyze digital content.

Becoming a Public Relations Practitioner

Aspiring PR practitioners must complete a bachelor’s degree in public relations, communication, journalism, or some other related degree track. Training is usually on the job, although professional organizations offer additional training opportunities. No certification is required, but optional certifications exist and will help you stand out in a competitive field.

How to Use Skills Lists

You can use this list to get an idea of whether a career in PR might be for you. Does the list of skills sound like you? You can also use the list to get a sense of what employers are looking for, although individual job requirements can vary a lot. Be sure to read job descriptions carefully before you assemble your application materials. You might also want to review our list of general work skills by job and type of skill.

Core Public Relations Skills

Communication Skills
A publicist needs to write captivating content for clients, from press releases to magazine articles to blog posts. With the possible exception of blogs, this content must be designed to appear in venues that the client does not own. The content must, therefore, appeal, not only to the reader but also to the prospective publisher — the editor of the magazine or newspaper who must decide whether to run the piece.

Even with blog content, the object is always the viral post, which depends on sharing by readers. That means the text must not only communicate the client’s message in a compelling and engaging way, it must also serve the needs of the publisher, who must want to publish it. Technical perfection in writing is not enough.

Social Media Skills
PR practitioners must be familiar with all forms of social media currently in use — a list that is constantly changing. Since social media platforms vary widely in terms of how they function and whom they appeal to, each calls for different strategy. Some messages are simply better suited to some platforms than others. A good PR person not only knows which platform to use for what, but how to use each platform to its fullest potential.

  • Twitter
  • Social Channels
  • Social Interaction
  • Social Media
  • Social Media Analysis
  • Social Media Releases (SMRs)
  • Posting
  • Blogging
  • Content Management Systems (CMS)
  • Digital Marketing
  • Engagement
  • Facebook
  • Google+

Research Skills
Public relations practitioners work with many kinds of clients in a wide variety of fields. To serve each client well, the practitioner must be able to come up to speed on the client’s brand, industry, and market very quickly.

International Perspective
An international, multicultural perspective begins with recognizing that not all people think in the same ways. Standards of polite behavior vary. Cultural symbols and icons vary. Tastes vary. A message that works well for one audience might alienate another. A good PR person appreciates and anticipates these differences and can research different audiences as needed, or call in extra help. Fluency in multiple languages is a plus.

Time Management
Public relations specialists must be able to juggle multiple clients and projects, all of whom expect to be considered important and expect their work to be completed yesterday. Mastering deadlines and prioritizing tasks is a must. Physical organization is a must as well. It’s a fast-paced, multifaceted job, and no one has time to lose paperwork or mix up names.

Creative Thinking
This is a time in PR and marketing communications when disruption and experimentation are the name of the game. Publicists have to be bold and creative to capture attention in a splintering market. That doesn’t mean breaking the rules (except sometimes it does), but it does mean knowing when to take risks, and it means thinking creatively in ways nobody else has thought before.

More Public Relations Skills

Here are more public relations skills for resumes, cover letters, job applications, and interviews. Required skills will vary based on the job for which you're applying, so also review our list of skills listed by job and type of skill.

Personal Attributes

  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Initiative
  • Interaction
  • Motivation
  • Organization
  • Reliability
  • Self Direction
  • Team Player
  • Timeliness
  • Time Management

Account/Brand Management

  • Account Management
  • Analysis
  • Brand Communications
  • Brand Knowledge
  • Brand Management
  • Brand Marketing
  • Branding
  • Business Storytelling
  • Budgeting
  • Task Management
  • Client Relations
  • Client Service
  • Drafting Pitches
  • Establish Relationships
  • Event Planning
  • Tracking
  • Trends
  • Troubleshooting
  • Generate New Business
  • Networking
  • News Releases
  • Newsletters
  • Pitches
  • Planning
  • Relationship Building
  • Relationship Management
  • Research
  • Strategy Development
  • Strategic Planning
  • Strategic Thinking

Computer Skills

  • Microsoft Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Outlook
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Photoshop, Quark
  • InDesign
  • InCopy