What does it take to be successful in an industry that changes constantly and unpredictably?
Yes, PR pros and marketers need to know about new digital skills, platforms and channels, but the most vital communication skills are the same as they’ve ever been.
Consumers today are likely to get their information from bloggers, YouTubers and brand managers as from traditional media. Reliance on facts is fluid, and peer-to-peer influence has supplanted talk from the top. To get the results our clients expect, we must have a deep knowledge of how to reach stakeholders across an ever-changing landscape.
Despite this revolution in terms of “how” PR is done, the “what” remains largely the same.
So, amid the scramble for great talent in our industry, a few core skills and one crucial attribute remain as important as ever:
1. Writing. Modern communications programs might encompass a much wider range of written and visual content, using short sound bites rather than long paragraphs to deliver a message. Still, the ability to craft and use the right words to create impact is essential at a time when you can no longer demand attention. You have to earn it through compelling content.
2. Research. Insight and analytics have become essential to almost all successful campaigns, making research skills and the ability to ask the right questions the staples of career progression. Although research sophistication and integration have come a long way, the ability to assess business context, audience and stakeholder dynamics remains crucial to a good PR program.
3. Project management. Without proper oversight, a great idea rarely will see the light of day. In-house or agency communicators find themselves spinning many plates at once, so having a plan to fall back on—from insight and strategy to implementation and evaluation, with contingencies built in—can afford you the best chance of achieving your campaign objectives.
4. Presentation. Like project management, a great idea or argument isn’t likely to fly if it isn’t presented well. Being personable still matters. Sometimes referred to as impact and influence, persuasive verbal presentation skills will remain a key factor in career success.
As for the crucial attribute mentioned at the top, it’s curiosity.
One would be hard pressed to name another profession in which this trait is more important. To ensure communications are relevant, PR pros must be more targeted; they must constantly seek perspectives different from their own. In that regard, curiosity is vital.
Nigel Miller is a chief human resources officer for Edelman. A version of this article first appeared on the Edelman website.