Important Skills for Public Relations Jobs

PR team meeting
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Traditional public relations (PR) skills, such as compelling writing and media relations, are always valuable. Perhaps, they're more important than ever in today's fractured media market. But due to advances in technology additional skills, like social media content creation, analytics, SEO, and programming, must complement traditional skills in order to create and analyze PR in a tech world.

Public Relations usually falls under communications and marketing within an organization. PR exists to shape public opinion, and more often than not, to change it entirely.

What Are Public Relations Skills?

Typically, an organization hires public relations personnel in order to bridge gaps in understanding between themselves and outsiders. While not always the case, PR skills are needed in order to deal with a crisis or bad publicity.

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 certifications in public relations do exist and can help you stand out in a competitive field.

Types of Public Relations Skills

Communication

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 that decides whether to run the piece.

With website content and blog posts the objective is for users to read, engage, and share within their own virtual network at a rapid rate. 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. Technical perfection in writing is not enough: the message and content must be relevant and interesting.

Social Media

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 to whom they might appeal, each platform calls for different strategy. Some messages are simply better suited to some platforms over others. A good PR director not only knows which platform to use for what, but has the skills to use each platform to its fullest potential.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • Medium
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Social Media Groups
  • Virtual Communities
  • Social Media Analysis
  • Social Media Releases (SMRs)
  • Scheduled Posting
  • Content Marketing
  • Content Management Systems (CMS)
  • Digital Marketing

Research

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 get “up to speed” with the client’s brand, industry, and market 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.

  • Market Research
  • Audience Segmentation
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Diversity
  • Collaboration
  • Multilingual

Time Management

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

  • Scheduling
  • Prioritizing
  • Multitasking
  • Attention to Detail
  • Project Management

Creative Thinking

In this day and age, publicists have to be bold and creative to capture attention in a splintering market. That doesn’t mean breaking the rules (though sometimes it means finding loopholes), but it does mean knowing when to take risks, and it means thinking creatively in ways nobody else has thought before.

  • Bold
  • Troubleshooting
  • Brainstorming
  • Problem Solving
  • Collaboration
  • Tact
  • Bearing
  • Proactive
  • Stress Tolerance

More Public Relations Skills

  • Flexibility
  • Initiative
  • Motivation
  • Reliability
  • Self-Direction
  • Team Player
  • Account Management
  • Branding
  • Brand Management
  • Business Storytelling
  • Budgeting
  • Task Management
  • Client Relations
  • Event Planning
  • Analyzing Trends
  • Cold Calling
  • Networking
  • Newsletters
  • Relationship Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Microsoft Office
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Website Development
  • Graphic Design

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Add Relevant Skills to Your Resume: Use the job posting to guide the way you build your resume with some of the skills listed above.

Highlight Skills in Your Cover Letter: Many PR jobs revolve around events and projects. In your cover letter, highlight a couple of key projects that demonstrate your PR skills and how they are relevant to the job opening.

Use Skill Words in Your Job Interview: PR work can be unusual, fun, and stressful. Employers often need to know that you can handle a variety of unanticipated circumstances. During interviews for a PR job, be prepared to explain how you’ve employed many of the skills above to solve problems, reach goals, and manage expectations.