My GroundFloor Media colleague and I recently presented to a college class of juniors and seniors from Regis University who were taking a PR 101 course. In putting the presentation together for the class, I thought of how different public relations is today from when I took my first PR 101 class. As we were sharing with the students what it’s like to work in public relations, whether it’s corporate, government, nonprofit, agency or as a freelancer, there are fundamental skills that apply to all sectors, and these skills are the same as when I took my first PR course.
- Reading – Being well read is more than mastering the latest novel; it means reading a broad range of materials that represent all different viewpoints.
- Writing – Good writers are good because they practice their craft and write a lot. If you don’t currently write for a blog or keep a journal, start now. Make it a goal to write every day, event if it’s just for 15 minutes.
- Pitching – In today’s world, there are no excuse for not doing your homework before pitching a reporter. We have at our fingertips, all of the information we could possibly need about a reporter before we send an email pitch and/or call him/her.
- Relationships with media – Having a relationship with a reporter is in many ways harder today than it was a decade ago because of all the consolidation among the media. Most reporters today are covering more topics than they previously were and have many more demands on their time. With that said, by doing your homework and being laser-focused when you outreach to reporters, you can still be successful. In addition, bloggers and other influencers are as important as traditional reporters. Build relationships with them as well.
- How to use other channels to communicate with target audiences – Since PR is “the communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics,” we have access to so many more channels to reach our audiences — blogs, social media platforms, apps, Web, etc. What’s most important is understanding which channels will be most effective in reaching your target audiences.
- Understanding client’s business – It’s vital to have a basic understanding of your company’s or your client’s business before you can provide counsel. What are the pain points and what keeps your client up at night related to work? What are the solutions you can offer?
- Problem solving – Knowing how to think on your feet and identify solutions, whether they are communications related or not, will serve you well in your career.
- Strategic thinking – This is a skill that comes easier to some than others. But, experience, being well read, understanding the business or industry you’re serving, can all help you become more strategic in your work life.
There are many other skills that will serve you well in the public relations arena, but these are just a few that we shared with eager, young college students who were getting their first exposure to people who work in PR. As we wrapped up the presentation and answered questions, we were glad to hear the information we shared about GroundFloor Media and the broad range of clients and diverse projects we implement, was beyond what many of these students imagined about public relations. Perhaps one of these students will pursue a career in public relations and be the next great leader.