A good PR professional works quietly behind the scenes, helping to improve the profile of the people or businesses they work for. Most of the times that PR professionals end up the center of attention it’s because of some sort of major blunder they made. However, even in these situations, a PR pro is still an essential part of your success. The key is making sure that you find one who has some of the key following traits.
Having communication skills is about more than just projecting an aura of confidence or being a good public speaker (though these traits are certainly useful) also. Communication also means being able to take information and present it in a way that’s understandable to a variety of audiences. This can be a difficult balancing act between being accessible while not being condescending, and it’s something a good PR professional does day after day.
A lot of people fall into the trap of thinking that the bulk of PR work is doing a lot of speaking and formal statements. In reality, a PR professional is more likely to spend a lot of their time writing. Alastair Turner, managing director of Aspectus PR, explains that even though we take in information through all types of different ways, writing is probably going to be the most important thing a PR person has to use on a daily basis. “You will be expected to write engaging content for clients, whether that’s a guest article in a magazine, a case study or a press release. You’ll also need to have good attention to detail, which not only comes in handy when writing but also proofing other people’s work. This is a vital skill to have, particularly under pressure, and it underpins good writing, research, and communication,” he explains.
This means, if you’re looking to hire someone for PR, be sure that they have a portfolio of writing, ideally full of the shorter communications and statements that make up a lot of PR work.
It’s difficult for anyone to be a skilled public relations professional without being up on all the latest details in the area that they’re working in. This takes a number of different forms. If you’re in PR for a specific company, you should not only be well aware of what’s going on in the company itself, but also on the client base and the product that the company offers. A good PR professional should always be the first person in the room to offer input on a particular situation or story.
According to Scott Signore of Matter Communications, “I can’t think of a business/career/gig that requires as much flexibility as public relations and social media. Plans, particularly those of clients, change with nutty regularity.” In general, one needs to be professional when dealing with a sudden change, and always look at what the client’s major goals are when deciding what to do.
When it comes to pitching various journalists and other sources, it’s important to understand that PR is a game of volume. A lot of the time, this means getting shot down and turned away for a variety of reasons. Any PR person needs to be able to compartmentalize it, keep in mind anything they can learn from this situation, and move on. In general, constructive criticism is a benefit, but sometimes you may not even get that.
A good cultural fit
The last thing on our list is something that can be a bit difficult to pin down, especially if you’re not on the hiring end of things. Basically, remember that whether they’re writing something for you or speaking on your behalf, a PR professional is a representative of the company. Many professionals will adapt to fit the tone as needed, but in some cases, you may want someone who comes off as a natural fit. Think of your brand principles. Transparency, trustworthiness, and industriousness are good traits you want to have a PR person represent as the face of your company.
Whether you’re a prominent individual or working on behalf of a business, it’s essential that you not only protect your image, but work to keep putting material out there to improve it. Ultimately, every PR professional you work with should have this basic principle at the back of their heads. The traits we’ve mentioned turn this mentality into reality
Ryan Velez is a Health Content Specialist with Article-Writing.co and freelance writer/editor from central New Jersey, with a background in B2B journalism and health writing. Since picking up freelancing in 2015, he’s worked with clients from different fields and across the globe to create informative and appealing content. When not writing, he’s always trying to scope out a new restaurant to visit.