The public relations industry is always evolving.
So, PR pros have to remain on their toes to adapt to new techniques and business trends, refresh their skills and gain a competitive edge over other industry professionals. Central to the success of a PR pro is the ability to learn.
They must keep themselves informed about new and emerging technologies and techniques in order to provide clients with the very best counsel and service possible. Here are four learning skills PR pros need to be successful in the industry today.
1. Translating complex topics
As a PR professional, it’s routine to become a subject matter expert in a matter of hours. You’re often tasked with reducing the complexities of enormous operations with lots of moving parts into an email or even a subject line that a reporter might be inclined to click on. While your timeframe may be a tad more flexible, it can often be challenging to ensure the optimal outcome for your client.
Be it hosted PBX solutions, geospatial intelligence or cloud-based ERP solutions, it is essential for communications professionals to have the ability to research, understand, translate and communicate complex technology and solutions into clear messaging for the non-technical business user.
2. Asking the right questions
Expert learners know that good learning starts with asking questions. Great learners ask intentional questions with the goal of reaching the root of an issue or subject.
All communications professionals must hone their question-asking skills. Knowing how to navigate an interview with an executive, subject matter expert, client or other key stakeholder will give you the foundational knowledge critical to having an informed, productive conversation.
Preparing good questions is a start, but knowing enough to nimbly adjust during the discussion often can make the difference between a standard Q&A and an in-depth interview.
3. Being an active listener
Once you’ve done the research and asked thought-provoking questions, it’s time to listen. Only when you keenly listen can you nurture the level of understanding needed to engage with key audiences.
Through active listening, PR pros can tailor messages specifically for each audience, who are then able to relate to what the client is communicating. The better your listening and comprehension skills are, the better your writing and speaking skills will become.
4. Assessing measurable outcomes
Reflection and introspection in learning are crucial, and the more accurate, the better. Both under- and overconfidence in your knowledge and abilities can lead you to fail to perform at your best. The same is true in PR.
Measurement of a PR campaign reveals what’s working and what’s not—it enables PR pros to learn from the project to drive better results in the future. Moreover, evaluating outcomes and reporting the results and takeaways of PR efforts helps justify PR spending and value-add to your clients.
Public relations is a lifelong learning commitment. As such, PR pros must cultivate these four key learning skills in order to be successful and drive the best results for the clients.
Megan Nielson is a senior account executive with Communiqué PR.