Skills for PR pros to learn during social distancing

Take some time to develop your skillset during your downtime, all from the comfort of your own home.


The last two weeks of coronavirus fallout have affected every aspect of the life as we know it.

Schools are taking extended breaks, restaurants have moved to carry-out only menus, and shopping malls, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues are being forced to close.

For most PR pros, coronavirus has prompted us to activate our crisis strategies and manage consistent communications for media, customers and key stakeholders. Many pros in our industry have also dealt with the transition to working from home, while our normal day-to-day work has been in limbo and crisis has been the focus.

Timelines for tactics like pitching media, social media content development, or event planning have been paused until further notice.

Our daily work might slow down and change, offering a perfect opportunity for PR pros to learn some new skills that will help us hit the ground running when social distancing comes to an end.

Online learning sources like Udemy, Skillshare and LinkedIn Learning are offering extended free trials for their courses right now. Here are some skills you can learn using these online resources:

1. Social media. Yes, we all know how to set up a business page on Facebook and run a brand’s Twitter account, but are you maximizing your brand’s opportunities on social media? Hootsuite’s Social Media Marketing Training is free and educates users about best practices and strategies for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn—and even YouTube. More advanced pros can benefit from Hootsuite’s other courses, but they do come at a cost.

2. Web development. Never rely on the web team to build landing pages again! Coding is one of the most accessible skills you can learn online for free. HTML and CSS are great languages to start with, giving you the skills needed to create basic websites. CodeAcademy is a well-known resource for learning a variety of coding skills.

3. Graphic design. Just like shooting videos, professional-grade software isn’t necessary for creating impressive graphics for digital or printed channels. Skillshare hosts thousands of classes online can teach pros the ins and outs of graphic design on Canva, Illustrator or InDesign.

4. Google Analytics Academy. Data collection is increasingly important for measuring PR success, and Google Analytics makes this information easy to collect and report. Knowing Google Analytics will not only allow you to report success, but also identify potential new target audiences and opportunities for your brand.

5. Video editing. While video is the best performing content on social and can make media pitches stand out, very few brands know how to use video effectively. Professional-grade equipment is not a requirement for shooting video, but messy editing is unacceptable. Amateurs can try learning to use iMovie, while more experienced pros can learn about Adobe Premiere, all using resources from Udemy.

Sometimes the best way to cope with uncertainty is to focus energy on something productive. These skills will help PR pros of any level keep their skills sharp and prepared for when coronavirus is a memory in the past.

 Mary E. Miles is a senior account manager at Weinberg Harris & Associates, a public relations and communications agency in Baltimore, MD. You can reach her at


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