What is the essential Public Relations skills set?

PR Blogger is challenging the public relations blogosphere to discuss the skills required to be a top PR consultant (not sure if that excludes in-house practice).  His 5 suggestions are: to have an interest in people, stay on top of the news agenda, PR yourself, don’t be afraid of making mistakes and to take each day as it comes.

The topic of “golden rules” was raised at a workshop “Introduction to Motor Industry Public Relations” I organised yesterday.  Tony Spalding (doyen of motoring PR) suggested his 5 as:
– Be active, not passive (especially in pursuing the legitimate business of your company/client)
– Deal in facts
– Remember the value of the human quality
– Speed of response
– Professionalism

My own recommendations to those “newbies” on placement or just starting on their careers in this exciting industry were:
build your knowledge of online social media (including setting up a bloglines account and feeding into colleagues who haven’t yet got this new world)
network – 360 degrees, upwards/downwards/sideways inside and outside your organisations (the PR “black book” of contacts is still vital)
become an expert – identify an area where you can shine and be recognised (no matter your age or experience) as the master
volunteer – identify opportunities, put your hand up, push the boundaries – look for any and every opportunity to build your skills and knowledge
add value – be useful to those around you, and identify ways you can prove you are adding value (key for the CV rather than boring “responsibilities”
value your own reputation – manage what others say about you when you’re not around – you are your most important client and need to build “brand-me”

The academic findings give a slightly different perspective.  Fawkes & Tench (2004) researched key graduate skills identifying that employers sought: literacy, teamwork, problem solving, analytical thinking, IT skills, research skills, numeracy.  The US Port of Entry study in 1999 gives a comprehensive list of knowledge and skills which seem to be reflected in most Undergraduate degree courses (and the CIPR qualifications that I teach).  The DTI/IPR recommendations of 2003 give a more corporate focus covering understanding of business, management of resources alongside communications skills, creativty, credibility/integrity and flexibility.  (See Tench & Yeoman’s book: Exploring Public Relations)

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

4 thoughts on “What is the essential Public Relations skills set?”

  1. Hi,
    I am an economics graduate and want to pursue career in public relations and advertising. I don’t have any professional qualification in this field but want to get a job in a PR agency.Later on, I’ll get myself enrolled in some PR related course.
    Plz suggest where can I get a job.

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