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How to get ahead in PR

17/07/2013

The communications recruitment market remains fairly healthy, certainly faring better than its journalistic counterpart as more businesses look to manage their image and maintain a strong media presence.

But what skills do you really need to excel in the cut-throat world of PR? Apart from the thick skin that comes from working in an oft-maligned and misunderstood industry, which should have formed already.

One initial warning from the Chartered Institute of PR is that all glamorous notions of boozy lunches and day-long excitement should be left at the door, as anyone who has worked in the sector for a while will have realised.

"PR roles can be incredibly varied so you will need to be able to organise your workload in order to meet strict deadlines. The ability to multitask is essential and a flexible attitude important," the organisation added.

According to a survey undertaken by Cranfield School of Management and the CIPR, analysing management needs, identifying problems and motivating others are all central to the skill-set of an ideal PR worker.

So what's new? Well, one major shift in the role is that the so-called 'smile and dial' days of trying to get publicity for a client by hoping a friendly journalist will run your story are - if not completely over - certainly approaching their end.

The nature of the news landscape in 2013, dominated as it is by instant-response platforms such as Twitter and the Guardian's irritatingly ubiquitous live-blogs, has fundamentally altered how PR practitioners do their job.

Marketing and leadership strategist David Meerman Scott's book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, laid out some of the major changes seen in the industry over the last decade or so.

One of its main points is that social media has to some extent set PR free from the symbiotic relationship it has 'enjoyed' with journalism since its inception - tools like Facebook allow communications professionals to directly engage with their audience without an intermediary.

For PR professionals keen to stay at the cutting edge of the profession, working out how best to harness the world of social media should be on the top of their to-do list.