7 ‘soft skills’ all PR pros should master

Some skills that make or break a PR career are hard to quantify. What are the intangible qualities that send a PR pro to the top of the class?

To be successful in PR, you must have certain skills.

Abilities like writing, research and communications are essential—and now, proficiency in areas like visual storytelling, analytics and measurement are becoming just as crucial.

Beyond what you’ll learn in the classroom, what soft skills will help you succeed in a PR career?

First, let’s define what a soft skill is.

While a hard skill can be measured, a soft skill is intangible and may be tough to quantify. Employers may not be able to test candidates for it, but they recognize it when they see it.

Soft skills can be as crucial as hard skills. In fact, research from the Society for Human Resource Management found that employers care more about soft skills than they do technical abilities.

Here are seven soft skills to foster if you want to succeed in public relations:

1. Teamwork

PR work doesn’t happen in a vacuum. PR pros must be able work with people across an organization, including engineers, salespeople, human resources and executives.

To hone this skill, look for opportunities to work with others. While you’re still in school or in your current position, embrace the chance to be a team player whenever possible.

2. Composure

A quick story: I was helping manage a press conference for a major tech company. We’d secured a venue and everything was in place. Then, during the press conference, the power went out. It was imperative that I didn’t panic.

They got the backup generator going and it all worked out. Looking back, panicking in that scenario wouldn’t have been helpful.

This quality is probably more critical than ever with brands being hit with crises on what seems like a daily basis.

Practice keeping your cool—and instilling a sense of calm in others.

3. Problem-solving skills

Many times in PR, you won’t see an obvious solution to your challenge. You have to be creative about coming up with approaches that may work. Then, you must experiment if the first doesn’t do the trick.

4. Flexibility

If the world of PR offers one thing, it’s change: changes in technology, staffing changes at publications, changes in trends, changes in tactics and approaches.

Most PR pros have learned to embrace change. If you’re still struggling with it, perhaps its time to reconsider your career options.

5. Planning

Do you like thinking ahead? PR should be a great fit. Not only do strong public relations pros need to plan their day, but they also need to be able to plan what’s coming up next month—and six months from now. Your calendar will be revised, but the first step is making sure there’s one in place.

6. Interest in current events

Every so often you’ll come across a PR practitioner who doesn’t follow the news, but it’s rare. Most of industry veterans are newshounds, and that’s a good thing. PR pros must be aware of what’s trending so they can take advantage of opportunities that may be a fit for their employer or client.

This is where the journalism training many public relations pros receive comes in handy. The ability to sniff out stories and hop on to hot topics that affect your industry is invaluable.

7. Leadership

More and more often, PR is being invited to the table for its pivotal role in strategic planning and reputation management. If PR pros develop their leadership skills, their voices are more likely to be heard and included in major decisions.

What soft skills do you feel are most important to be a successful public relations pro today, PR Daily readers?

Michelle Garrett is a PR consultant and writer at Garrett Public Relations. Follow her on Twitter @PRisUs or connect with her on LinkedIn. 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.

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Topics: PR


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