Essential skills for a career in PR

Written by Stefanie Hopkins


FAITH PR’S MD, STEFANIE HOPKINS, SHARES HER BEST TIPS ON STARTING A CAREER IN PR

This week I was invited to give a guest lecture at Huddersfield University to second year Journalism students as part of their Public Relations module. The University regularly invites PR practitioners to deliver talks to the students to give them an insight into the various PR disciplines that exist and my focus was the role of a PR agency.

The format was a Q&A session to allow the students to ask anything they wanted about PR agency life with questions covering topics from ‘how much media relations do you do’ to ‘how do you look after your clients’. The final question was ‘what skills do you need to succeed for a career in PR?’, which is an interesting one, given how much PR has changed over the past decade with increasing digitalisation. I thought it would be useful therefore to summarise the skills that I think are necessary for those wanting to make a career in PR.

HERE ARE MY TOP TIPS:

Be an excellent communicator – and that means not just being great at writing and speaking, but listening too, so you can communicate effectively with different audiences across different mediums.

Understand what news is – how to discover it, reveal it and make stakeholders aware without it being promotional. I am constantly surprised by the lack of current affairs knowledge among some who want to work in PR – the best way of knowing what a story is is to immerse yourself in others’ stories.

Make sure your writing skills are exceptional – this is a key one for me and it amazes me how many CVs and cover letters I receive from PR and journalism graduates that are full of bad grammar and typos. Ensure you have an excellent grasp of grammar and gain experience writing content for different channels and audiences – from blog posts and social media posts to articles, press releases and presentations.

Be creative – develop your lateral thinking. To succeed in PR you need to constantly find new ways to promote a business or identify a story so think beyond the obvious.

Develop your commercial understanding. This is incredibly important, not only in terms of understanding the market and client objectives, but making your agency money.

Be tech savvy – digital skills are crucial to succeed in today’s PR environment and, as well as being active on social media, develop an understanding of all social media channels, social media advertising, SEO, content marketing, etc. Some Photoshop and video production skills are very useful to have too!

A FINAL WORD OF INSPIRATION FOR THE NEXT GENERATION

My overall advice to those looking to make their mark in PR is to get the relevant experience, be connected and be committed – put in the hours, stand out, do something different, go the extra mile – earn your stripes.

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