What key things do top PR pros share?
It comes down to five factors:
1. They listen. Effective PR pros keep quiet, watching for group dynamics and nonverbal communication. Then they ask probing questions in a thorough, systematic way—all before offering their own insights or recommendations. They continually pay attention to voluntary and involuntary feedback, adjusting the campaign as needed.
2. Their vision gives context for decision-making and communication. Their strong analytical abilities help clients and executives make difficult but informed decisions. Within the given context, the effective PR pro knows how to communicate to those stakeholders. Without context, even solid facts or defensible positions can be disregarded or overlooked.
3. They distill complex thoughts into accessible messages. Enough said.
4. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of traditional and digital media. The two often are interdependent, and topnotch pros identify which channel will be better in any given scenario. They also know how to trigger and build interest, as well as how to keep an incipient crisis from spiraling out of control.
5. They know when to communicate (and when to stay quiet). Timing is just as important as content, message and channels. In certain instances—perhaps involving legal risk or business implications—it’s best to wait or not to communicate at all. Sometimes mere communication is not the solution, because the problem runs deep and those involved simply won’t hear your message.
Tim O’Brien is owner of Pittsburgh-based O’Brien Communications. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.