A client recently asked me to give a training session to the wider business on PR. As part of that training, she asked me to outline the skills needed.
This part was trickier than I thought. After all, I don’t head home and think ‘what a lot of skills I’ve used today’. It is much more likely that my thought process revolves around where and when I might be able to get my hands on some wine.
So, to get some pointers, I turned to everyone’s friend: Google. There were lots of ‘PR is the career for you if X, Y or Z’ type articles. The main points seemed to relate to being a good communicator. Well, who’d have thought it? Plus, I would argue that good communication is vital in any job, not just PR.
And that is when I realised that I don’t interview people and think about their skills. I am much more concerned about their attributes as a person and whether these can be applied within the team. As someone succinctly put it: “hire for attitude, train for skill”.
So, rather than the ‘good organisational skills’ fluff these career lists reel off, here are some of the attributes that, in my opinion, you need to succeed in PR:
- Patience – they say it is a virtue and whoever ‘they’ are is bang on.
- Diplomacy – oh the spats I’ve had to sort out, egos I’ve smoothed and disasters I’ve attempted to divert.
- Tenacity – you get told ‘no’ a lot in PR. Whether that is a client saying no to an idea you were sure they were going to love, a journalist saying no to a story and so on and so forth. But if you actually accepted no for an answer, you’d never get anywhere.
- Skin thicker than a rhino’s hind – this is in relation to the point above, but people can often view the PR pro as the whipping bod. Accept that you are never going to win and be sure that you can have a laugh at your own expense.
- Genuine enthusiasm – if you aren’t sold on the idea, then why would your client, journalist or wider online community be?
- Smarts – you’ve got to know when you are boring someone to death, when to push back, and when to push harder. You can call it emotional intelligence if you like, but for me it’s all about having the right instincts.
- A nose for a story – like a good French fromage, you need to be able to whiff a potential story and whip it into shape pronto. We are, after all, the authors of our clients’ stories.
No doubt there are many more that I have missed off, but they’re what I’m looking for in my team. If you think you’ve got what it takes, let me know as I am always on the lookout for great PR talent – firstname.lastname@example.org.