Specialist to generalist
PR professionals can no longer be merely PR professionals or specialists. Due to the constantly evolving environment, they work in, they have to position themselves as communications professionals or generalists.
Today’s hybrid workplace requires employees to have a broader skill set to work as:
- problem solvers
- innovators, and
Similarly, communication professionals work in complex, ever-evolving, and highly demanding environments, where a linear approach can hinder success.
Communication practitioners continue to equip themselves with a wide range of skills to maximise value for clients — from:
- strategic planning
- media relations and writing to gain a deeper understanding of data analytics
- social media content creation, and
- digital communication.
Gone are the days when agencies walk into a room with a person for every discipline and layered cost model.
An inquisitive mind
When Alice falls down a rabbit hole and enters a strange fantasy world, she encounters increasingly odd creatures, events and people, which at one point leads her to exclaim; ‘Curiouser and curiouser!’
Unlike Alice’s fascinating adventure, communications professionals often have to unearth interesting nuggets from what — to the incurious eye — may seem rather mundane.
Good communicators understand the importance of research and in-depth knowledge of the world around them.
“It is our job to stay on top of the news cycle and determine what is happening in the industries that our clients operate in. This is where we are able to get the most creative campaign ideas, and angles for thought leadership content and be strategic consultants that our clients require us to be,” Diener says.
A little black book
Furthermore, all PR professionals possess ‘little black books’ of media contacts in their personal and professional arsenals. These books should, however, be classified as the ‘golden book’ as it holds all the most valuable relationships, contacts and the potential success of the next campaign.
Diener adds, “A communications professional with a focus on PR, cannot ignore cultivating media relations in the new media age while nurturing the existing relationships with traditional media. Influencers are now more important than ever before. Understanding how to leverage PR in the social sphere is imperative.”
An ability to pivot at speed
In the industry, agility is one of the most important watchwords. It’s no secret that communications have always been a fast-changing industry, but social media has accelerated this change with astonishing speed in recent years.
“In 2021 alone, more than 4.26 billion people were using social media worldwide, a figure that is expected to grow to about six billion by 2027. Any communications person who does not keep abreast of this significant trend will be left behind,” adds Diener.
A pandemic like Covid-19, for example, has compelled PR professionals to rethink campaigns and strategies at high speed. This is not expected to change as long as the world continues to experience:
- social, and
- economic crises.
“Professionals who cannot think outside the box will have difficulty adapting to this rapidly changing environment. Businesses that thrive on change harness it for creative purposes rather than viewing it as an obstacle,” Diener says.
A keen grasp of words
Communicators should be masters at what they sell: communication. In business, the best operators are:
- excellent communicators
- articulating well
- expressing themselves clearly
- listening for understanding, and
- translating what they hear accurately into action.
The ability to write well is one of the traits that distinguish exceptional communicators. This skill seems to be waning in the industry.
“When I first started out in the industry, everyone had to be able to write a press release or opinion piece. Today, the ability to write well seems to have become the preserve of a few, rather than the general requirement of many. Those who really want to excel in the industry will make sure they are competent writers, capable of writing not only email messages and press releases, but content for multiple social media platforms,” concludes Diener.
Establishing oneself in the PR industry requires hard work, an eagerness to reach new heights, and the ability to adjust to industry trends and an ever-changing media landscape.
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PR practitioners Public Relations Eclipse Communications Cara Diener PR PR traits What traits should a PR have? Thought Leadership Publicity news PR News Public Relaltions information