New to the PR profession? Ace these skills

by Chriselle Bayross
Ace these skills as a new PR professional
Ace these skills as a new PR professional

I just finished a masterclass on Public Relations (PR). One of the questions asked was ‘what are some skills you need as a new PR professional?’ As it is the beginning of the year, I thought I would share some advice for all emerging PR professionals. Maybe you’ll could benefit from my experience. Looking back, this piece is more a  ‘Things I wish I knew at the beginning of my career’.

Build your network

Learning how to collaborate is an important skill for a new PR professional.

In my early career days, I was told ‘a journalist is never a friend’. This followed in the vein of ‘nothing is off the record’ and how ‘we are on two different sides of the table’. Lately the lines separating PR professionals and journalists are blurring . After working with media for awhile, I feel that you should learn how to approach them, intelligently. Some of them can even become friends. You become their trusted resource and that will prove beneficial to the both of you. 

Learn to be a generalist

Learn different things as an opportunity to better your career.

I joined the communications sector from the financial sector. Naturally, I was well-versed in financial services. I remember I was told that most people are scared to do financial PR. They think it is technical and difficult to understand. After that I was made to handle an altogether different sector – entertainment. Initially I resisted this change. In hindsight, I benefitted from this experience. It helped me to tell better stories, use the nuances of one sector successfully in the other, learnt how to approach media covering different sectors and overall by working with different journalists became less intimidated of them. My advice: do not put yourself into a silo. If thrust into an unfamiliar situation, use it as a learning experience.

Use technology and design to your advantage

Take advantage of online tools

Many overlook this aspect. You can harness technology and design to do your job better. For instance the quality of presentations from my first job has changed as compared to today.  There are many online tools (Some examples; For design-Canva, project planning- Trello, writing-Grammarly and even media tracking-Muckrack) available for free; help is actually a click away. Choose what will make you stand out.

Don’t be afraid to use your voice

Remember to share your insights because they are valid and can be useful

As a profession that has to find the most appropriate way to say things, we sometimes lose sense of what really matters. Talking from experience, the value you bring to the table does not depend on your age. With how fast media changes and the fact that sometimes junior most members are tracking it, in real time, you will have insights that others may not. 

Be compassionate

Don’t be so hard on yourself, or others.

You can’t be good at everything. The way this industry asks one multitask, mistakes are bound to happen. Treat it as a learning process and move on. COVID has had an impact on the media too. Hence when you reach out to them, do it in a compassionate manner. Remember they are human, just like you.

To sum up, I have to say, there isn’t a clear roadmap to anyone’s career. I wanted to create a plan and carry it out to a T. I started in financial services, moved to PR, and did stints in startup and corporate sectors, all of which contributed to advancing my career. There was no linear path. That’s why they say the adventure happens when things don’t work out the way you plan them. 

If there are PR experts here who have advice for newbies, I’m sure the newbies and I look forward to reading your views in the comments section! Do share.

This first appeared on my LinkedIn, take a look-

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