PR skills involve a lot more than writing press releases and sending email pitches. It’s a perfectly choreographed dance of attracting new clients, developing trusted relationships with current ones, and building tight bonds with the media contacts in your space.
It takes a special person to juggle all three.
So whether you’re considering a career in PR or you’re looking to self-improve in your current PR career, here are 11 must-have traits that every PR professional needs.
- Essential PR skills
Essential PR skills
Curiosity in the PR world will not kill the cat – it’s actually necessary. You need a hunger for knowledge and a mind open to learning new things every day.
PR pros constantly learn about new and potential clients. You need to be ready to take a deep dive into new technologies, products and innovations. You need to ask questions, research competitors, and uncover each client’s unique message.
Curiosity will also keep you up to date on news, trends and media. This will make you an expert across many subjects.
2. Excellent storyteller
Do you love to write and narrate? Do you craft your messages excited to draw people in? If yes, you’re well suited for PR.
One of the top PR skills is an excellent writing style. You should be able to paint a picture with words but in the most efficient and concise way possible.
Writing skill development is a lifelong process, so don’t be discouraged if you’re not exactly where you want to be yet. The best way to improve is to increase your reading, whether it’s novels, news articles, or press releases.
Are you bubbly and likeable? Great! One of the most important PR skills that every PR expert should have is the ability to make business contacts easily.
You’re introducing yourself to new people all the time: new clients, potential clients, editors, influencers, and brand partners.
All of this is a lot easier if you enjoy meeting new people and asking questions to learn more about them.
Small mistakes like typos and incorrect contact details can undermine your credibility in professional relations, especially in PR.
If you have a knack for focusing on details, you’ll be prepared for every meeting and presentation. You’ll instill confidence in clients, who will trust you to speak on their behalf.
Measuring the effectiveness of PR is often referred to as one of the biggest challenges of communication specialists.
Your job in PR will be much more enjoyable if you approach analytics as a game where you’re sifting for gold nuggets.
We’re lucky to live in a time where PR data is more accessible and detailed than ever. The ability to spot larger trends in it will prove invaluable to your career.
Here are two metrics to follow as a PR pro, along with tips on how to efficiently use them:
👉🏼 Share of Voice in PR: How to Calculate Your Brand SOV
👉🏼 Media Mentions Guide: How to Track Media Mentions Effectively
We have also prepared special guides about PR metrics to leave behind (and what to use instead):
👉🏼 What is UVPM aka Domain Reach in PR? (UVPM metric alternatives)
👉🏼 What is Advertising Value Equivalency in PR? (+ AVE Alternatives)
Empathy is a highly beneficial trait for anyone, but especially so for communications professionals.
It’s the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, so it gives you the power to connect with your target audience and choose the best way to communicate benefits and key messages to them.
At the top of the wish list for PR traits, being innovative has to make the top 3. Without a doubt, successful PR experts are innovative with their messaging and campaign approaches. They understand what tactics consistently get results in PR, but they also consider new ways to get a message across.
They stay on top of new PR technologies too, like automated PR software, online newsrooms, and virtual event platforms. They know that these industry upgrades can help them significantly increase visibility for their clients.
As a PR professional, you’ll sometimes find yourself dealing with a communications crisis.
The best PR pros have what it takes to keep their cool, advise their clients quickly, and deliver a PR response swiftly.
The trait of resilience is critical in these moments. If you’re not there yet, it’s okay. This is one of those PR skills you’ll develop with time and experience.
PR professionals may have to think broader than professionals in other industries.
Being imaginative covers two sides of the PR coin. On one side, imagination allows you to listen to a client and re-tell their story in a new way. On the other side, imagination allows you to consider all possible interpretations of the story, allowing you to consider which will make the biggest impact on your target audience.
Are you creative? Consider it one of the top PR skills!
You’ll need to be creative to enjoy your work in PR. Every day is different, every client has different needs, and every campaign needs to be fresh and newsworthy.
Self-awareness comes in handy in all aspects of life. If you know your strengths and weaknesses, you know when to ask for help and where to seek improvement.
It makes you a better colleague, considering the support needs of those around you.
It also makes you an excellent listener, which is key to learning your clients’ needs and crafting brand stories that draw people in.
Whether you were comparing yourself against this list as a PR newbie or polished professional, how did you do?
No one person is going to earn an A+ grade on all of them, but being aware of them helps you focus on your professional growth areas and reminds you to leverage the traits you’ve already mastered.
If you’re an agency owner or PR manager, recognizing which traits are lacking in yourself means you can add balance to your PR team by hiring people who excel in those traits. Because if you have all these traits covered across a team, you’re all set too!