1. Networking Ability
As any PR professional will tell you, it’s not always about what you know as much as it’s about who you know. Some studies have even shown that up to 85% of critical jobs are filled through networking1. This means that if you want to remain competitive in today’s job market, you need to be proactive about sharpening your social skills.
Thereby, you cannot be afraid to put yourself out there. It may be scary at first, but half of the battle of networking is just showing up. Show up to places where you will naturally be exposed to other people. Attend PRSSA’s biweekly virtual panels, join Titan PR, or sign up to attend a virtual mixer.
I remember when I first got started I just made a promise to myself to say “yes” every time somebody invited me to an event, or to hang out. I didn’t want to pressure myself into becoming that bubbly, life-of-the-party extrovert overnight. Instead, I would just put myself in situations where conversations would naturally flow with the people around me.
I found that, after attending a certain amount of mixers and panels, networking becomes effortless. You start to enjoy the fruits of the personal connections you create, and realize that good “networking” really translates into, “being yourself in social situations”.
2. Practice Writing
Regardless of what company you work for, whether you are working PR for Disney, a cardboard lemonade stand, or your own personal Instagram, it is unavoidable that you are going to be writing. A lot. This being said, it’s crucial that you practice the art of articulating your ideas into written word.
If you are starting to sweat, thinking anxiously about the F you got in 6th Grade English, then relax. The most important thing about writing in PR isn’t about impressing your grade school teachers or your college professors with your big words and impeccable grammar.
Writing is about being able to articulate your ideas in ways that your target audience is going to understand. Sure, you should have a decent understanding of the English language, but also understand that you don’t want to sound like a robot.
To this end, you are going to need to work on finding your voice and adapting it to different contexts. For example, you are going to use different writing styles when, say, you are writing an Instagram description vs a press release. For the former you want to be more personable and engaging, whilst for the latter you would want to be more formal and grammatically correct.
There are a multitude of ways to get better at writing in different styles and voices. If you want to get better at writing with personality, for example, you could journal. If you want to improve your professional writing, you can sign up for writing workshops or take an English class at your local community college.
Once you fully master this skill, you become one step closer to fulfilling your potential as a PR professional.
3. Social Media
In today’s age of technology, social media is a force to be reckoned with. It’s rare to find a successful business these days without a Twitter, an Instagram, or a Facebook Page. Some businesses are even going viral with their Tik Toks2.
In order to adapt to this, it’s imperative that you stay up to date with the latest social media trends. And I don’t just mean that you should be scrolling mindlessly through your Instagram searching for funny memes.
I mean you should browse mindfully. Follow successful businesses you admire or want to work for. Pay attention to what’s popular with their audience and what flops. Use this as inspiration for your own posts and stories, and see how far you can take your personal brand.
Like I said before, the PR industry is built upon relationships. These relationships, in turn, are built upon honesty and integrity. When you violate the trust of a client, you jeopardize your reputation and your career.
Therefore, it’s important to practice honesty and integrity not only professionally, but in your everyday life. If you make a mistake, own up to it and learn from it. Treat your peers and clients with respect. When you make excuses for yourself or purposefully deceive others, you are depriving yourself of character growth and undermining your relationships.
Warren Buffet said it best:
“In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And, if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”3