Less than five years ago, I was cooped up in a classroom every day working on projects I was told would give me “real-life” experience in PR. And while each project taught me something new, there is nothing more telling of your abilities than your first client, first media hit, first time leading a meeting and so on. We’re only kidding ourselves if we think we can get by with an empty resume and mediocre writing samples used for a made-up company in PR class.
I’ve found that these three skills, among others, are essential to being a successful PR pro on a daily basis. The catch? They aren’t necessarily something you’ll pick up in a classroom environment.
I can’t begin to count the times I was encouraged to focus on one thing at a time and scorned for multitasking – in or out of the classroom. Truth is, if you cannot multitask, you simply cannot survive a day in public relations. Especially in a top Indy agency, PR executives must be comfortable thinking on their feet while also managing more than one project (for more than one client) all at the same time. Say, pitching four different story angles to media contacts nationwide, while prepping a press release, finalizing an expert byline and managing multiple social media accounts. Phew!
Communication never stops, so multitasking can carry past the 9-to-5 window. No matter what the demand or deadline, it’s important to know what skill sets are required for each task and when.
PR pros can’t be scared of a little rejection. Some days it might feel as if you all you hear is ‘no,’ but the ability to turn a negative response into a positive one is a skill that can go a long way. If your pitch wasn’t enough to catch their attention for a story, how you respond to the rejection might open the door for another opportunity.
You can’t be afraid to put yourself out there, get on the phone, follow up (respectfully), or be put on the spot. The ratio of hits to misses might be discouraging; however, fearlessness is your friend when it comes to public relations, media relations and communication.
Staying on top of trends, in addition to new media outlets, isn’t always easy. The daily grind of media relations calls for new angles to promote your clients, both creatively and consistently.
PR pros that follow relevant blogs, news outlets, vertical markets and the like are most successful with media relations. Unfortunately, that can only take you so far – so, go-getter personalities, creative minds and proactive ambitions makes the difference between stagnant and flourishing PR.
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