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Friday, December 18, 2009

Three Important skills for future PR professionals

For those of you involved with public relations, you know the field is rapidly changing. The boom of the internet, Twitter, and social media sites, combined with the cell phone’s ability to keep people organized and connected through those channels, is establishing a new skill set for the successful PR professional.

It’s no longer sufficient to simply be aware or have a general idea of how to use the aforementioned technology. It’s absolutely essential for PR professionals to fully understand how to work with the internet, social media sites and blogs; and to recognize the most effective way to make use of them. I am currently a student majoring in public relations and after talking with people currently involved with PR, I’ve learned a few of the following skills are vital to success in the field.
  • Search engine optimization: This is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via unpaid search results; opposed to search engine marketing which requires paying for the same cause. Mastering this skill will give your website a web presence, increasing its relevance to specific keywords and removing barriers of search engines. The earlier you can get your site to appear in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive and awareness you can generate for your cause.
  • Understanding how to effectively reach customers: As mentioned before, you need to use more than just the traditional media outlets. It’s necessary to understand the ins and outs of the social web and blogger relations because if you do, and you know all the available spaces online, you can bypass gatekeepers and engage directly with customers and peers who purchase your products or influence the decisions of others.
  • Staying connected using mobile tools: With the advent of smart phones (iPhone, Blackberry) and their ability to access twitter, Facebook, etc., it’s imperative to know how to accomplish your work in a timely fashion. In my opinion, this is the most important thing for PR professionals to pay attention to. News is happening constantly and it’s extremely valuable to be able to both inform and communicate people and react quickly to problems (crisis management).
All of these skills, along with a number of others, will help PR professionals establish and maintain relationships with customers and key stakeholders. I also suggest checking out this article by Adam Singer. It offers another perspective of 10 skills all PR pros need for 2009 and beyond. What do you think are the necessary skills PR pros might need for the future?

David Hauge
University of Minnesota
Jour 3279
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