Four more key skills for PR pros in 2011

December 21, 2010

I can’t believe the number of people who contacted me about my post on key skills for PR pros. Kristin Jones, a fellow PR practitioner, took the time to comment and relate a couple of additional key skills. Thanks, Kristin. Great insights.

But as I mentioned in that post, I only gave six of the 10 skills, hoping that I could lure you back to read the additional four. So here are the four additional skills a new PR person needs to develop to make it in our industry.

7. An ability to balance tactical with strategic. This is perhaps the most important skill of all to gain for a new PR professional. It requires mastering the writing and media skills needed to land clients high-profile coverage. But it also demands an ability to determine the client’s real business objectives and deliver on their needs — all of which vary greatly. PR is not simply a game of gaining the most possible visibility for a client. Rather, it’s the science of delivering the results that hold the greatest marginal value for a client. That requires an ability to empathize with the client, understand their real goals, and then create a plan that achieves those goals. It’s no small undertaking.

8. Build your media contacts. When I was young, I spent Saturday mornings at Borders’ magazine rack reviewing the mastheads of all the magazines and newspapers, and gleaning new contacts who I could reach out to during the upcoming week. Today, finding those contacts can all be done online. But finding contacts is one thing. Creating relationships is another. That’s a function of creating value for the media as a resource they can turn to for sources, information, and data.

9. Harness creativity. A highly creative idea for an event, initiative, news release, or media pitch can often make all the difference in winning media coverage. The problem, however, is that too much creative is created in a vacuum, without the reality check of whether it can be accomplished. Only recently have I learned that clients don’t necessarily look for that one big killer idea — and if they are, it might be a sign of desperation. Rather, clients want small, doable, creative concepts that, executed over time, can distinguish their story, earn respect, and win visibility, often much more visibility than a one-and-done, big-bang initiative.

10. Spin the wheel. A few nights ago, I dreamt of a man who spent his life relentlessly turning a wheel. With each turn, a small flint of gold dust fell to the ground. On any day, the wheel churned out only a light dusting of gold. But over a lifetime, a small mountain of good fortune appeared. Our industry is very much the same way. It’s not a quick kill. Rather, it takes time to build and master competency. But for those who turn the wheel, good fortune comes in the form of a career well-crafted and a life of creative, meaningful work in service of our clients.

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Frank Freudberg
8 years 2 months ago

Hi Greg. What a great two-part post. The list contains nothing but pure wisdom. Every PR student/beginner/pro can gain real-world insight from what you've written. I've printed it out and I'm keeping the list on my desk. I regard it as a Christmas present from you. Happy Holidays.