In this video, I talk about the PR skills that you need to master if you want to be successful working in this field. In full transparency, I have never worked in public relations. Meaning, I’ve never pitched the media, I have never written a press release, I have never read a press release, I don’t know any journalists, and in most cases I don’t really love journalists either. For more videos, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.
However, I’ve been around long enough to understand how important working in public relations really is. I have several colleagues that are the smartest and most strategic individuals that I’ve ever worked with. The following is my perspective on the skills that I think are necessary to be a wicked smart media relations professional.
There are five PR skills that you need to master in order to be successful working in this field:
- Understanding of data
- Being a good storyteller
- The gift of gab
- Understanding the value of relationships
- The ability to look at the bigger picture of business
Understanding of data
So let’s talk about data. There are two ways to think about this and I’ll make it as simple as possible. There is performance and measurement and there is upfront research and analytics. The performance and measurement is simply measuring the performance of a campaign that’s currently in market. The campaign can be earned media, social media, or a full integrated marketing campaign.
The upfront research and analytics piece is media insights, social data and audience insights to find white space opportunities in a market. This simply means that you can use the insights and findings to inform your content strategy, paid social and even a larger campaign narrative. These are not just PR skills, they are skills for business.
Being a good storyteller
Now the second public relations skill that you need to master is being a good storyteller, which is a given. Personally, I suck at storytelling so every video I do there’s like 25 or 30 different takes until I get the right story but it comes easier for some than others.
Understanding how to apply good headlines, a hook, a lead up and a payoff are elements that make up a good story. Sometimes this takes practice but the more you do it the better you’ll be long term.
The Gift of Gab
Now the third public relations skill that you must master and learn is the “gift of gab”. What that means is you must know how to talk, persuade and influence others.
So if you think about your job as pitching the media either through email, the phone or in person you have to be able to get that hook right. You have to know what to say, when to say it and how to move journalists down a path in order to get them to do what you want them to without having to ask them.
Understanding the value of relationships
The fourth public relations skill is all about relationships. Here’s a concept called reciprocal altruism and that simply means to “give without any expectation of receiving anything in return”.
As a media relations pro, you are building relationships with journalists or the media in general and you have to give them value. You can’t just pitch them news all the time. Please don’t just send them press releases or template emails. You have to ask yourself what you can do to help them do their job more effectively, even if you don’t have any news whatsoever. If you give, they will give back in the future.
The ability to look at the bigger picture of business
The fifth and most effective PR skills you can learn is understanding business context. This usually comes with experience because if you are just starting out in PR, you may not understand the broader concepts of business like the supply chain, retail, the channel, the operations that make a business work and function, DE&I programs and also the internal like employee relations and internal communications.
Understanding these issues will help ensure that you can plan for potential pitfalls or reputation issues that may negatively affect brand reputation.
So it’s not just about pitching the media and getting coverage. You have to understand the entire business ecosystem. This is what will you give the most effective public relations skills.