You want to get into the public eye and relate. Do you have what it takes to get hired?
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You may have a basic idea of what P.R. positions call for, such as writing press releases and having good communication skills. However, there's more to it than that. Discover below the traits and skills necessary for you to excel in your chosen field:
Traits of a Genuinely Talented P.R. Professional
Talented P.R. professionals get the job done. They know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it – with grace and style. They provide the best press releases and have more than enough connections. The P.R. pros with real talent have the following traits:
They Are Prepared: Those who stand out always have a smartphone, a notepad, and a pen – and maybe even a camera – handy for networking or any spontaneous meetings that may arise.
They Are Great at Communications and Relationship-Building: Be friendly and approachable, tell great stories, and hold genuine and meaningful conversations.
They Stay Informed: If you know your company, your customers, and relevant information from the media back-and-forth, then you can stay in touch with the needs of those with whom you deal. Stay knowledgeable, learn something new, and above all, always know what your clients want.
They Write Like Professionals: This should go without saying, but your writing should present you as a professional in your emails, letters, and all other means of written communication.
They Are Comfortable With Speaking Engagements (and Persuasive): You cannot make it in the P.R. field without sharing valuable information with others. You should be able to relay product knowledge or stories of your company leads in positive presentations that are powerful enough to convince other organizations to spread the word.
They Take Notes and Keep Track of Small Details: You will want to hold onto important information for future reference whenever you need to, plus keep your clientele satisfied, making sure that their company keeps the best public image.
They Are Patient: You may have to wait on the results of your P.R. work. This is an absolute must.
They Make the Right Connections: Reach out to the correct journalists and publications appropriate to the industry for which you work.
They Have the Ability to Stand Up: This job is not for the meek. You are in the public eye, so you will naturally take the brunt of any criticisms. You will have to stay strong for the company you represent.
Skills of a Genuinely Talented P.R. Professional
Now that you have an idea of the personality traits a P.R. career requires, you need to know which skills your future employers are looking for. The following are the traditional and new skills necessary for you to outshine your competition:
Writing: Don't just talk about your excellent writing skills – show off your potential with a variety of written articles, especially published ones. News releases are quite impressive and recommended for newbies to learn. Also, be able to work with multimedia: Journalists look for press releases that use videos, slide shows, or images.
Experiences Gained During Internships: Be sure to attain knowledge by working with different agencies or organizations. Show prospective employers examples of stories you have presented or campaigns that brought about results. You will want to demonstrate your ability to sell yourself to convince others to hire you.
Listening: There is no better way to demonstrate your listening skills than by asking your interviewer intelligent follow-up questions. As mentioned in the traits section, you need to know what your clients need and want at all times, and the ability to listen carefully is necessary for that.
Proofreading: Always make sure you look over all of your writing for errors and mistakes. Only give your supervisor paperwork when you believe that it would satisfy your customer.
Ability to Handle the Media: For most of your career, you will have to deal with the media. You will need to be familiar with a media list and know all the pitching best practices.
Experience With Social Media: It is a wise decision to make your presence known on social media while attending college. In this way, you showcase your ability to help your clients with their social branding. Proficiency with Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms would be beneficial.
Blogging: If you have one, great! If not, you at least need an understanding of and an interest in blogs. Microblogging is an essential skill as well, so do yourself a favor and get comfortable with Twitter.
Know About SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) can be technical, but you don't need to be a techno-wiz. Some parts of SEO require little knowledge of technology; you just need to know the basics.
Know How to Code: You are good to go if you know the basics of HTML, PHP, VBScript, and maybe a few others.
Understand RSS and RSS Readers: Rich site summary (RSS) is important to know if you work with social media.
Public relations is a diverse field. The more you strengthen your traits and develop your skills, the more you'll stand out from the competition vying for the same jobs as you.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO of New York-based public relations firm 5W PR.