Having been around the block a few times, I have a good understanding of the traits of a successful PR professional. At a minimum, these are the traits we seek when filling key positions at our firm. In my humble opinion, PR people need to be…
What’s the end goal? That’s what PR people need to consider more often than they do typically. The PR activities we execute daily put a company on the map or contribute to a larger initiative designed to help it do more business. While vague, that’s appropriately described. Before acting, a PR person needs to determine how the desired result contributes to the bigger picture of business success.
I can’t think of a career that requires as much flexibility as public relations and social media. Plans, particularly those of clients, change with nutty regularity. The successful PR pro needs to adapt and, throughout any transition, help clients achieve communications and business success no matter the direction.
Social media channels present the very obvious need to be nimble: One Facebook post can change the tone of a day. In addition to being reactive and responsive, PR pros need to have the ability to deal with whatever comes their way in a professional manner.
3. Strong writers
To be great at PR, one needs to have writing skills. While content development has taken on a more expansive meaning of late, the foundation of the PR agency job is still in keystrokes. The ability to articulate, think creatively, and maintain a positive personality are all obvious characteristics for any profession, but in PR above average writing skills are imperative, with colleagues and clients demanding everything from compelling blog posts to finely-crafted press releases and everything in between.
4. Sponges (early in their careers, at least)
Becoming a well rounded, consistently reliable and savvy PR person takes work. The ramp-up to achieving such a standard varies greatly depending on the individual, but no entry-level professional punches into a new job and immediately begins counseling the world’s biggest brands on high-profile communications issues.
Most newbies make an impact, but there’s a difference between that impact and the decision making of other more senior staff members. There’s so much to learn in PR on a daily basis, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve loved being a PR guy since I first interned in the field.
The best young professionals understand that experience can be gained from closely watching co-workers, carefully noting their accomplishments, and learning from their challenges.
5. Unafraid of learning more (later in their careers)
Learning is endless and that’s so true when it comes to the ever-evolving PR field. There’s so much to gain in every interaction with a colleague or a client, and in every first-hand experience—from a methodical, well laid out plan to a crisis situation. The best PR pros know to embrace all that is happening around them and best leverage that data to improve as professionals.
6. News junkies
PR people need to care about what is happening in the news in both their core sector and in the broader world. They need to be on top of news and trends, so that they can harness what they know to craft story ideas that best position their client, topic, etc., within the most timely, topical conversations in the media and on the street.
PR people get shot-down often. It’s a common occurrence and there’s nothing wrong with that. Amid great editorial success, we get turned away pitching more than our fair share of story ideas, bylined articles, and profile pieces. While we enjoy much strategic and tactical success when working with clients, we also get shot-down presenting ideas for new programs or programmatic approaches.
It’s part of the business, and you need to roll with the circumstance. Critique and criticism are common, and it is something that needs to be embraced and learned from to survive happily at any PR firm.
Have I missed anything important? If so, let me know.
Scott Signore is the principal and CEO of Matter Communications, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a firm next week.