5 PR Skills that Every Brand Needs
Today, being a public relations professional takes more than being good with people or knowing how to write. If you really want to build your brand’s reputation or strengthen your relationship with communities – the ultimate goal of any PR campaign – these are the skills you need to have.
1. Know how to communicate with different audiences
Neff is consistently ranked among the top public relations firms in Philadelphia and they explain that PR practitioners have to be able to create different story angles for different media outlets and target audiences.
For example, a mobile communication company wants to announce a new product. You can create a press release that focuses on specs for technology websites, and another that focuses on its sleek design and powerful camera for lifestyle and fashion websites.
The different story angles reflect a deeper understanding of your target audiences and the kind of information that’s relevant to them.
2. Shift across different styles of writing
Press releases are just one of the many kinds of content that PR practitioners are required to write. Depending on the brand’s needs, you may also have to make social media posts, infographics, explainer videos, newsletters, blog posts, or white papers/position papers, and annual reports.
In this way, PR practitioners are like content chameleons, who can capably adjust the tone and style of their writing depending on the format. However, if you do it well, you can reinvent a chunk of content in many ways.
For example, a company wants a PR campaign that highlights its environmental and sustainable programs. A good PR practitioner can do a round of interviews with its key executives, and spin that into a press release, a blog post that can be shared on LinkedIn or the website, several social media posts, a video script, and emails to its different stakeholders.
3. Get social media savvy
Before the digital age, PR practitioners would rely heavily on major newspapers, TV, radio to communicate with the public.
However, the global conversation now takes place on social media. That’s where people first hear about the news, share information about it, or react to it—and because of that, there’s where brands (and their PR representatives) should be.
But what kind of social media skills do PR practitioners need? You should be familiar with different platforms (Twitter, Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Discord, etc.) and their respective content management tools. That includes being able to create different posts, do analytics, and manage any paid PR campaigns based on their advertising guidelines.
PR practitioners also need to know the best practices for social media, such as the best posting times and the kind of content that leads to engagement—more clicks, likes, and shares.
4. Understand crisis PR
A PR crisis can drive away customers, cause stocks to plummet, and permanently tarnish a brand’s reputation. Even well-established brands like Volkswagen, Wells Fargo, and Samsung have lost billions of dollars because of a scandal or a bad customer experience; imagine what could happen to a start-up or a struggling company.
That’s why it’s important for anyone in PR to have crisis management skills. You need to know how to create a crisis plan and then set it up so it can be activated the moment an emergency occurs: key spokespersons, key messages, contact list of media outlets, internal communication protocols.
You will also need to be able to identify the risks of your organization, such as customer complaints, labor union strikes, environmental activists, etc. The best PR practitioners are able to spot the risks from the beginning and build positive relationships with the stakeholders from the beginning.
That helps prevent PR crisis from happening or creates goodwill with those communities so the effect of a crisis will be smaller.
5. Know how to do research and social listening
One of the most important jobs of PR practitioners is knowing managing public perception. Do consumers trust your brand? What kind of values or characteristics do they associate with it? Do they have any negative impressions or misconceptions that need to be corrected?
To answer those questions, PR practitioners need to be able to do research and social listening. That can include formal tools like focus group discussions or sample interviews, or modern analytics tools. If that is not possible, you may need to do your own “fieldwork” such as monitoring media or community forums.
The new breed of PR experts
As you can see from this list of skills, the modern PR practitioner should have three important traits: the sensitivity to understand the audience, the versatility to shift between different content platforms and writing styles, and strategic thinking to create integrated PR plans and crisis PR plans.