When I first started my career in PR, I was tested on two things – my knowledge of the media and my ability to write interesting and accurate copy.
That knowledge and this skill has saw me through ten years of exciting and thoroughly satisfying career experiences. However, it’s debatable whether I really needed my degree or A-Levels to do this…
Readership in general is in decline.
Media outlets are suffering, many are closing.
Therefore, what is it that new PROs or even those who are a little long in the tooth like myself, should be concentrating on. Here are my top five:
Number 5 – Desktop publishing
Some important roles of a communicator are setting processes, policies, producing an internal newsletter and/or providing market intelligence to management. Web site management and/or face-to-face stakeholder engagement might also be a role they fulfill.
Being able to design and publish an internal magazine, report or book therefore is a very useful skill and can be very impressive. It is also self serving as production of such an item bolsters your CV and records your achievements.
I recommend learning how to use Blurb’s BookSmart tool, and then moving up to Adobe InDesign or another DTP software package.
Number 4 – Video Editing
You don’t need two enormous LCD screens, a powerful IMac and an office cubicle frozen to the ice age to be a reasonable video producer. What you do need is a couple of good cameras – one has to be a proper camcorder with wireless external microphone at least 32gb of memory and 5hrs battery life. The other, a quality Canon or Panasonic DSLR with a large lens, significant 30*> optical zoom, and an LED Light attachment.
Then you need a good laptop with Intel i7 or better. You should also know how to use WeVideo, Flickr, YouTube and MovieMaker or similar. Oh, and a high-speed Internet connection as well.
Your aim is to make reasonable 90sec clips in under 20 minutes. This is because Flickr will not allow you to post more than 90secs as this is the maximum attention span anyone will give to content.
If you are an experienced press release author, then this is quite easy. You just strip through the recorded edits and ruthlessly cut down so that you are within the required limit.
Useful for presentations, intranets, Web sites, social media and sometimes even for broadcast, this is a valuable investment in time.
Number 3 – Social Media Management
This is simple, but I am embarrassed at how many people don’t quite understand it. I don’t care about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, or any of these tools.
I care about HootSuite, Buffer or similar message and social media management systems.
We need to be able to manage teams who are working on these social media platforms and provide them with approved content as soon as possible for them to do their work. Therefore, a certificate from HootSuite should be one of the most proudly displayed documents on any PRO’s wall, in the same way as a medical certificate in a doctor’s office.
Number 2 Sustainability Reporting
My favourite trade skill right now.
Being able to produce a GRI-compliant and graded sustainability report or a UNGC Report on Progress is what defines a CSR-Manager from a CSR-Wannabe. There are processes, tools and checklists you have to be familiar with, and you need to know how to work your way around ISO26000 and other CSR standards to make it work.
This knowledge frees you from consultants and allows you to successfully complete your project with the least amount of time wasted.
Knowledge of Enterprise Risk Management; materiality assessment, market research and public advocacy is all used here.
Number 1 – Photography
I don’t have to explain that all of the above talents, and the traditional media relations skills are almost wholly reliant on having good pictures.
A picture says a thousands words they say, and it’s as true today as it ever was. Therefore, my ultimate tip for every PRO is buy a good camera, love it, use it wherever you can. Record your achievements and those of your employer/client/agency.
It is the best investment you will ever make both in your career and your personal life.