An organization's reputation and profitability can depend on the degree to which its targeted public supports its goals and policies. Public relations specialists seek to build and maintain positive relationships with the public. Their clients include businesses, nonprofit associations, schools, universities, hospitals, other organizations and celebrities.
A PR job may involve working for a consultancy where you handle several clients or for a particular company or person. A career in public relations is not as much about qualifications as it is about knowledge, soft skills and presentation. The following skills will go a long way in making you a success in the PR field:
- Good people skills: A pleasing and amiable personality and the ability to get along with people and network effectively are vital to making it in this field. Clients can be difficult and demanding. Learning how to win friends and influence people is what a large part of the job is about. People who choose public relations as a career should have an outgoing personality, self-confidence and be team players.
- Strong communication abilities: A lot of public relations is centered on what you say and how well you say it. Being able to communicate effectively verbally and a flair for writing are essential. ''Communication is the key, backed with energy and passion for what you are selling. There is some writing involved and plenty of meetings to attend, so you have to be organized, but it's performance as a communicator that counts,'' Greg Day of Greg Day PR has said.
- Organizational skills: You have to be good at organizing meetings, presentations, press conferences and events like openings and product launches. Time management and multitasking are skills you need as you will be faced with multiple pressures and tight deadlines. It is important not to feel stressed out. Overtime is common and work schedules are irregular. You cannot be a clock watcher and may have to work late into the night or on weekends.
- Relevant formal education: A degree or diploma in public relations, journalism, mass media, communications, corporate communications or even advertising or marketing are useful. An internship with a firm will also prepare you for what to expect and also help you find out whether you are cut out for this job.
- Versatility: A PR job involves many things – interacting with clients, organizing events, dealing with the media, writing and editing press releases and managing a website. You should have the versatility to tackle these varied roles.
- Creativity and sales skills: You may be required to visualize an effective campaign. This needs creativity and imagination. You also need to have the knack of how to sell your idea.
- Resilience: Last but not the least you will have to have the ability to bounce back from failure. You must be prepared for both bouquets and brickbats. Karen Myers, director of corporate communications at IPC Media, has said: ''You have to be confident and thick-skinned working in PR. You're responsible for a client's reputation and if a campaign goes wrong, sometimes for reasons out of your control, you have to be able to speak to the client and take criticism from the media.''