Skilling up for your next career move

Our most recent blog focused on the challenges faced by those recruiting in the PR industry, with our two cents on attracting, hiring and retaining the best talent. This time, we wanted to discuss and highlight the changing role of a PR professional, and what you can do as a candidate in order to rise to the top and get that role you’ve always dreamed of.

In an industry that’s candidate driven when it comes to recruitment, it’s rare that you will find a PR professional who is struggling to find a new opportunity – whether that’s to make a move for a slightly higher salary, a promotion or change of environment. Job security in the PR industry is pretty good, as long as you do your job well, and whilst a lot of people change roles on average every 2 years or so, progression tends to be quick and salaries tend to grow year on year – job changes are usually for a better work/life balance or a new challenge. However, how do you get your ‘perfect’ role and not just your ‘next’ role?

One of the most interesting elements discussed during the recent conference we attended was the changing skills required from a PR professional. We actually wrote a blog last year about this very subject and gave some practical advice on skilling up, to make sure you’re the best out there.

Loveday Langton of tech PR agency Hotwire analysed the skills that a PR was expected to have in 2000 and compared it to those expected now. In 2000, there were 20 core skills, including the obvious such as writing, relationship building, creativity and business acumen. Looking at what’s expected today, she estimated 37 individual skills, which tend to be required across the industry. We all know that PRs are definitely multiskilled, multitaskers, but that’s a big difference!

With the development of digital services within PR, a greater focus on ROI and analytics, (which has historically been a tricky one), more technical tools and capabilities are becoming an integral part of any PRs role.

There is the obvious tack for any job hunter to take, and that’s to learn, understand and begin using and honing each of the new tools available. However, another thing that we are seeing more and more, is the rise of more specialised roles in PR.

Some agencies, such as Golin, have been doing this for years – with their ‘connectors’, ‘catalysts’ and other job roles being defined from the widely adopted 360 PR responsibilities, allowing people to really hone their skills in one area. New roles are popping up in agencies all over the place – Content Managers, Planners, Strategists and of course Digital practitioners. These positions are becoming almost as commonly hired for as standard Account Management roles. This obviously has a lot to do with more agencies becoming full-service and competing with everyone from Digital and Advertising agencies to Management Consultants. However, we aren’t often seeing experts from these industries coming into the PR world and leading the offering, rather experienced PRs developing their skills in these areas and changing roles. This means there are plenty of opportunities for those who take the initiative to skill up in new areas and lead from the front.

Skills, ultimately can be learned and most agencies are great at encouraging their employees to do so – PR as far as we can see, is an industry that sinks a lot of time, effort & money into decent training. However, attitude and personality traits can rarely be learned, and these ‘soft skills’ are imperative to succeeding in PR…

Emotional intelligence. This is so important, as it feeds so much into building relationships with journalists, your clients (and learning how to manage them!), and of course understanding the different audiences you’ll be targeting.

Curiosity is another attitude which is highly sought after – as mentioned before, the skillset for a PR is such a mixed bag, wanting to know more is never going to be to your detriment. Curious and creative people can often be caught sniffing out the best newsjacking opportunities or figuring out the best angle for a story.

Integrity is key, especially considering you’re in charge of your client’s reputation and public perception. Being able to stand up and make yourself heard when you think something is a bad idea, could save a brand from a complete PR meltdown.

Finally, agility & resilience are essential. No day is ever the same in this industry. Client demands change, public perception changes, skills change and so must the perfect PR.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to becoming a successful and sought after PR professional – do you become a generalist or a specialist? We think there is definitely space for both, and we’re seeing agencies change their way of working in order to embrace the two.

Drop us a line for an informal chat about how the industry is changing and for advice on skilling up!