So, you have dreams of a career in public relations, yet you live in one of the most conflicted times of human history. This reality creates a riddle: what is the difference between a missionary and a PR person? A missionary goes to heaven. The PR person just goes to the cloud.
In reality, a career in PR—in addition to being stressful and consuming—can be extremely rewarding emotionally and financially. As you move along the path toward that profession, there is sage advice you might appreciate that has been passed along by wise souls who walked the PR way before you. Here are a few tips about skills and preparation for a career in PR.
Stay completely current
Back to that cloud thing, it is essential to remember a dramatic shift that took place over the course of a few years. It silently changed everything about the way business is conducted, though little note was given to it publicly. This is a reference to the birth of the cloud, the mysterious digital place where all vital data is stored today.
When email was first born, the internet just passed it along and mailboxes got full quickly. If you wanted to keep messages, they had to be downloaded. Then came cloud storage, where mail—and soon all data—was stored on the servers that powered the net. Next came cloud computing, in which the software that runs the computers was also stored in the cloud. Finally, we have arrived at “cloud native” computing. What is cloud native? It is the most current, efficient, effective form of computerization. To thrive in a career like PR, you have to understand shifts like this that occur constantly and change everything, even if few people notice what is happening.
Break communication barriers
- Know what is going on beyond the words. When others speak to you, strive to grasp their motives and their emotions.
- Discover the art of questions. Did you know that asking the right questions not only enables you to find unspoken information but allows you to express things, like this?
- Stay real. The successful PR person exudes honesty, integrity and sincerity.
- Talk with your hands, and your eyes, your posture, your tone, your breathing and your silence. Communication is only partially verbal.
Find out and write it down
Back to the cloud, the successful PR professional knows going into every meeting and relationship what to expect. She or he goes into every presentation with a well-reasoned, articulate proposal. The ability to conduct research on multiple levels is a necessity. Formal research, which is where familiarity with the abilities of the best search engines comes into play, enables you to grasp the technical world of those with whom you will be dealing.
Informal research, which is where social media comes into play, allows you to connect with the human side of your clients. The ability to express yourself—whether orally or in written form—is essential to any presentation. It does not matter how brilliant your insights are if you cannot convey them adequately.
Another distinction between missionaries and PR professionals is that missionaries are expected to tell their story the same way again and again. PR people do not have that luxury. Being creative is an absolute must. As a PR person, you can anticipate encountering the skepticism and even cynicism of clients who will assume they know what you are going to say. Often their defenses are high and they are prepared to dispute or discount your presentation even before you begin.
Creativity is the hallmark of individuals like you who can anticipate the resistance they can expect and discover ways around it in order to connect. Ultimately, forming bonds of respect and open communication is the greatest signal of success you may experience as a PR professional.