The art and practice of PR has changed significantly over the last few years. The increase in the complexity of the media landscape, driven by new communication channels and the fragmentation of audiences, has fundamentally changed the profession. Once upon a time, good relationship building skills alone could take a PR professional far. Not so any more. The lines between marketing, business analysis and PR have blurred, changing the skills required to succeed. These are 5 competencies that are essential for modern PR pros.
1 – Storytelling
Renowned crisis expert and communications strategist, Robbie Vorhaus, explained the importance of storytelling beautifully. “Essentially, storytelling, and that includes PR, is having a point of view or theme, focusing on one person or thing (the hero) and taking your audience on that hero's journey through trials and tribulations to arrive at some new point, but now changed. It doesn't matter if you're promoting a country, company, product, person or cause; if you tell the story with the same structure, elements, archetypes and path of all great stories, your message will be heard and acted on. And, in business, whoever tells the best story wins.”
2 – Collaboration
PR once functioned as a silo within businesses, operating independently from the other parts of the organization. This is no longer tenable. In the digital world, PR must be coordinated with the activities of marketing and sales teams to create a consistent, integrated message for the market as well as to measure the results of PR activities. Successful PR professionals must be adept at collaboration and build strong internal relationships.
3 – Business Acumen
Today’s business leaders increasingly demand that every part of the organization produce measurable results that impact the bottom line. This includes PR. In order to justify investment in PR, its practitioners must understand the metrics that are important to the business and the methods to measure PR’s impact.
4 – Flexibility
Today’s PR strategies include earned, owned, shared and paid media. In order to succeed, one needs to be able to leverage each type and get the most out of activities and investments across the spectrum. New channels of communication are introduced all the time and audience preferences shift on a dime. Great PR pros can roll with the punches and quickly adapt to changing realities.
5 – Technology Fluency
If you chose a career in PR because you, “hate computers,” you’re out of luck. It is not possible to practice effective PR in today’s world without the ability to leverage technology solutions designed to support it. The media landscape is simply too vast and complex to be understood without the aid of sophisticated software solutions. This doesn’t mean you have to be a developer. The best solutions are designed to be intuitive and easy to use, but use them you must.
Although what it takes to succeed in PR has changed, success is certainly not out of reach. In fact, the number of ways to amplify your brand and have an impact on business results continues to grow. For those who have the right stuff, this is an exciting time for the PR profession. If you don’t have these skills, reaching your potential means doing what it takes to develop them.