At this point it is still uncertain as to the ultimate impact our floundering economy will have upon the public relations and marketing world. However, one thing is for certain. The PR/marketing industry has undergone a dynamic shift that requires a new set of skills and a deeper understanding of the power of the Web.
For those currently in the field, it’s critical that you at least develop a baseline understanding of the importance of social media and its overall role in bridging connections between online audiences. For those finishing up college, a proactive approach to developing some of the skills below will certainly help you battle the existing tough job market.
At the college level, it’s great to see various PRSSA chapters getting students involved with not only learning about the value of social media but also working with different clients to implement practical social media campaigns. Likewise, agencies are taking steps to make sure employees are up to speed on the changing digital landscape. But, gone are the PR 2.0 days of just talking about blogs and the Web as a valuable marketing platform. The Web is now a necessity for anyone in the communications field and PR 3.0 is upon us.
What are we talking about when we talk about PR 3.0?
Max Gladwell did an excellent analysis of the topic, noting that PR really breaks down into media relations, blogger relations and consumer relations. On a similar note, David Mullen did a great post on how “public relations” has really been redefined as “people relations” in today’s communications world.
The verdict on an accurate definition of PR 3.0 is still out, but more importantly, it’s crucial that we all adapt and learn the skills that will eventually be expected of any PR practitioner.
Here’s my recommendation on 10 skills that will help any PR/marketing person stand out amongst the pack in a PR 3.0 world:
1. Search Savvy
Two words – Research Guru. PR relies heavily on solid research and fact finding. Get savvy on how to dig quick and dig deep to get answers. Hint – Google should be your best Web friend.
2. Web Architecture
Many websites are now constructed from blog platforms such as WordPress.org. Search results are influenced through paid advertising, linking and search engine optimization (SEO). The content on your website makes a difference (Meta-Tags, Keywords, Links). Understand how all this works together to impact overall Web presence.
3. Social Media Savvy
Understand the definition of social media and get that it’s not just about the tools and technologies, but more importantly, the conversations, engagement, interaction and relationships these tools facilitate online.
4. Active Social Media Involvement
You’re not a head nodder that pretends to get social media. You’re not just a content pusher but an engager. You comment, you critique, you add value to existing conversations. You get the crucial importance of listening and monitoring on the Web. You’re actively involved on at least a few different social media sites and are willing to try a new, proven platform to see its role in facilitating online conversations.
5. Blogger Relations
You recognize that a blogger is a blogger and know the different nuances associated with connecting with bloggers. Learn blogger relations 101 and understand how bloggers connect and influence one another.
6. Media Relations
Not so quick, traditional media hasn’t gone away yet. Still at the core of any good PR pro, is an understanding of how to appropriately craft releases and pitch TV, radio and print outlets. It’s more important than ever to understand the need for short, relevant, personal, localized pitches. In addition, recognize how journalists are utilizing blogs as a fluent news publishing platform.
7. HTML 101
You don’t have to be a web programmer, but take an HTML 101 course so that you have the flexible skill base to manipulate web content. Learning the basics of Dreamweaver can’t hurt either.
8. Content Creator
Similarly, no need to be a professional photographer or videographer, but it doesn’t hurt to bolster these skills. Compelling Web content thrives around photos and video. It wouldn’t hurt to be familiar with how to effectively shoot both and what it takes to get that content on the Web in a shareable, searchable format (yes, tags and titles really do matter). Check out Photoshop or iPhoto as well as iMovie or Finalcut to get some basic photo/video editing skills under your belt.
Whether it’s a strategy document, client monthly report, press release, blog post, tweet, video description or website copy, writing skills will always be of the utmost importance for any strong communicator.
Clients like results. It’s no longer just about quantity of hits or press clips. It’s about quality of conversation and social influence. Be able to recognize and justify to clients how key blog mentions and placements frequently hold more value and influence over traditional media placements. Companies such as Radian6 are helping refine online measurement and many tools have excellent embedded analytics tools (ex: YouTube Insight).
Bonus – Client Relations!
You didn’t think I’d forget did you?! Above all, solid client relations should remain a primary focus for any PR practitioner. Clients look to PR pros to guide and direct, counsel and execute plans that help them achieve their PR and marketing goals. Be the trailblazer that can pave the path to success by conveying the importance of online PR/marketing tactics to clients in a clear, concise manner while remaining flexible and adapting to the changing demands of the Web.
What steps are you taking to align with PR 3.0? What other skill requirements would you add to the list?