It used to be that all a successful PR professional needed was to be the most organized person on earth, with good writing skills and the ability to make friends. (Oh, and a few pairs of great shoes.) Everyone knows that social media has changed the role of PR and it is no longer sufficient to rely on your ability to bang out a great press release.
PR professionals today need the skills to keep track of a million details at once and the creativity to build ideas that will spread. But that isn’t all a successful publicist needs to survive in today’s digital world. Here are a few other skills you can add to your list:
1. Throw the Perfect Dinner Party.
Ok, it’s not really about throwing the perfect dinner party; it is more about being a connector. While every publicist needs to have a great network, they must also learn how to connect people who can benefit each other. Publicist Susan MacTavish is known for hosting the best dinner parties in Silicon Valley. Editors would bend over backwards for an invitation to mingle with CEO’s and executives from some of the most successful companies in the industry. How can you leverage your network to build that kind of power?
2. Manage a Blog.
A big part of a PR professional’s job is pitching bloggers and other online media. The only way you can truly understand how to drive traffic to your campaigns, how to make content go viral or what pitches you should prioritize is by managing your own blog. Managing a blog is the only way you can really understand the process of writing a blog post, how bloggers organize their editorial calendars, and what you can include in your pitch that will make them want to write about you. Every time a new social network launches or Google changes their algorithm the way that traffic works changes and your PR strategy could shift. Don’t take a course. Don’t go to a conference session on pitching bloggers. Just start blogging.
3. How to make friend with the person everyone wants to be friends with.
Over the past few years the idea of working with online influencers has exploded and every time a new list of top bloggers is released, clients desire for coverage from those bloggers increases and the chances of you actually garnering coverage from those bloggers decreases. You need to start fostering relationships with influencers at least three months before you will ever need to leverage those relationships. This means that you must always be ahead of the curve when it comes to building relationships with influencers. Because if you miss the curve? You miss the coverage.
How can you start building relationships with influencers? First, read a lot of blogs. My Google reader has over two-hundred blogs in it, some I read daily and others I skim every once in a while but the point is you have to read A LOT. Secondly, interact with them. Don’t just email bloggers when you need something from them, that isn’t how relationships work. Email them when they make a big announcement, congratulate them on their new baby or re-tweet their latest post. Show them that you are listening and you understand who they are and what they do. Lastly, meet them in person. Influential bloggers get a ton of email and people tweet at them all of the time which makes it really hard to stick out. So register for a blogging conference, go to a local tweet-up or invite them to lunch when you are in the area.
4. How to Google
Google is the most powerful tool in a PR professional’s arsenal. In order to keep up in today’s fast-paced PR landscape you must be able to find the information you need as quickly as possible. With the right keywords and perfectly placed quotation marks you can find an editor’s email address, bloggers for your next campaign, details about your client’s competitors, statistics for your deck, insights on new trends and SO much more. The key is that you have to understand how keywords work, where you should place quotation marks and what you need to type to find the exact information you are looking for. Once you have mastered that? You can conquer the world.
5. What to share.
Whenever people talk about what to share online they are usually telling you to delete all of your drunken pictures on Facebook, use a cartoon avatar on Twitter and hide everything you do for the sake of privacy. Here is the thing; online influencers (bloggers and editors alike) became influential because they shared their stories online. They like hearing other people’s stories and when you email them they want to know who you are. TMI is good for you. Hiding out on the internet could actually lower the chances that they will email you back. And yes, that picture of you doing a beer bong in your birthday suit could actually lower the chances of you having a job. Which is why it is essential to know what to share and what to keep off of the internet.
What other skills have you found useful in your PR career?