For those not employed in marketing and communications, the world of public relations can seem murky. The public’s view of PR has been clouded by television shows like ‘The Thick of It’, which portray the profession’s employees as manipulative masters of the dark arts. This has led some working in the profession to remark on how the PR industry has a massively ironic PR problem of its own.
While bad practice in the industry sometimes does come to light, in reality working in the sector is more likely to involve helping to connect brands to consumers than burying bad news, and modern PR professionals require a much more rounded skillset than a calculating Machiavellian streak. We decided to run a poll on our website asking leading marketing and communications talent what they thought the most important skills for public relations professionals are. Being highly organised was the third most popular choice, taking 8% of the vote and reflecting on PRs’ need to manage diverse workloads. Creativity, which PRs require in order to make their campaigns stand out from competitors, came in at number two with a respectable 14%.
Excellent communications skills came out on top with a massive 69% of the vote. PR professionals need to interact and learn how to speak to a range of audiences including journalists, bloggers, clients, or their wider business if they are in-house, and the target audiences of their campaigns. Furthermore, the importance of digital to modern campaigns has increased the need for PRs to be strong communicators; not only are today’s PRs focused on communicating via journalists, but they are increasingly interacting directly with consumers through owned social-media channels.