What makes a great PR person?
Sam Turvey, a Partner at Maitland, offers his thoughts on what qualities make the best PR professionals
I am often asked by young new joiners or graduates: what are the key skills you need to do well and succeed in PR?
Most of them try to pre-empt my answer by suggesting something like good writing, understanding how to read a company’s income statement, being social media savvy or having lots of contacts.
The truth is those things are important, but they are all skills and resources you can refine and acquire over time.
From my experience the very best PR professionals have three distinct skills and qualities, which are not that easy to learn, if at all.
- They are intuitive
Great PR people are like chess players. They are several moves – or thoughts in this case – ahead and are preparing and planning for the next question or challenge, whether that’s from a journalist or from their client or colleagues. They listen and sense what is unsaid or unwritten as much as what is, and they proactively seek to address these areas.
- They are versatile
Whether in an agency or in house – and particularly the former – you have got to be able to jump with relative comfort between tasks and people styles that are often incredibly different and require a completely different approach or type of knowledge. Time can build the knowledge you need, but not being flustered by sudden change and remaining focused is an impressive quality to have.
- They are passionate
This sounds cheesy but your clients and colleagues want you to demonstrate passion. It shows you care. In fact, it shows you more than care, and that’s exactly what they want in their team. They want to know you’ll make that extra media call, you’ll stay a bit longer to review the statement one more time, you won’t be afraid to ask the uncomfortable question because you know it needs to be tackled, and you’ll want to be the first to spot something when it appears, regardless of where you sit in the company hierarchy. Passion makes you understand your company and clients better, which helps you advise and perform better. That earns you credibility.
So, that’s it, my personal view. I have no more career wisdom to share on the matter, the rest you’ll have to learn on the job! But, if you think you have these three skills and qualities, give us a call, you might just be the next great PR professional.