Chances are you gravitated toward a career in PR because you were good at a wide variety of PR-friendly skills—a generalist. You believed your writing, organization, event planning and personal relationship building would be an asset to the industry, and you were right.
Now, however, technology is advancing rapidly and the best PR teams are transforming to take full advantage of it. Teams of specialists who work together for one common goal will have greater success and broader reach in this new PR landscape where big data, machine learning, bots, and other technologies enhance traditional skill sets in social media, writing and more.
As a strong generalist you likely already have some of the qualities you need to specialize. If you are goal- and detail-oriented, creative, show confidence, excel at being self-directed and are eager to learn new things, you have a good foundation for increasing your skills. Your eagerness to learn and your drive to succeed will assist you as you start down this new path.
Check out these five specialist trends in PR to gain new skills and boost your career to the next level:
As search engine optimization becomes more complicated, it must anticipate not only traditional search but also voice search, botnets, audio, video, virtual reality and other media. Before, becoming an SEO specialist meant mastering fairly static and predictable data and algorithms. Now, mastering SEO means learning new technology and thinking about reaching and enticing customers who will encounter your brand on a host of new platforms in new ways.
Becoming an analytics specialist doesn’t require as much math knowledge as you’d think. Certainly brushing up on your skills in math won’t hurt, but a willingness to learn how to read data is more important. Why? Because analytics is more about understanding what the data are saying about your customers and their needs, wants and habits than about counting stats.
3. Machine learning/NLP
Machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, bots, artificial intelligence—whatever you call it, this is a next-level PR specialty that may offer endless opportunities. In an age where even our phones have AI, understanding how to leverage it for PR and discovery is going to become an essential skill. Taking some free classes online via sites like Coursera and Udemy is a great start.
Like it or not, the world is becoming ever more visual, and images and videos are increasing in popularity. Before, the PR pro might have focused on TV, but as more and more people cut cords to go to subscription services like Netflix or online video, it’s vital to understand how to make and leverage video content as well as how to influence and capitalize on video discovery and reach.
To be a great PR storyteller, you should enhance your existing social media, writing, listening and relationship-building skills. By listening to the real needs of your brand’s target customers and approaching PR through the lens of empathy as well as accountability, you can create compelling stories that drive brand reach. As you master storytelling and create more emotionally resonant stories, growing your audience and building trust in the brand, you can increase your success by partnering with the SEO and analytics specialists on your team to tie your content to the organization’s bottom line.
The task of becoming more narrowly focused may sound daunting at first, but it’s worth the time you’ll spend learning new skills. By creating expertise in a future niche you’re increasing not only the value and longevity of your career in PR, but the value you bring to clients, brands, and organizations you work with.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Meltwater blog.