Top 4 new skills all PR professionals must have
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UPDATE: Per some great feedback, I changed the title of the post from “Top 4 skills all new PR professionals must have” to “Top 4 new skills ALL PR professionals must have.” The skills mentioned in this post are not just for new grads, but new skills that all in PR should have.
If I was graduating from college today as a public relations or communications major, the five skills below are ones I must have. These are NEW skills for PR professionals, meaning in addition to traditional skills. These are skills I currently use in my every day life and ARE NOT skills I was taught in college, nor in my first years after school. Whether you’re new school or old school PR, these are skills we all must learn (and use).
#1 – Basic HTML code
I’m not saying you must be a HTML code wiz, just learn the basic commands like:
- Creating a title: To create the title above I simply added <h1> before and after the words. Not too hard, right? I even keep a cheat sheet on my home and work computers.
- Adding and embedding hyperlinks: You’d be surprised how many places you must enter HTML code when embedding hyperlinks.
- Inserting images: Everyone loves a good picture, especially in blog posts.
- Copying and pasting HTML code: I consider this a basic. Many times people will create ready-to-use HTML for widgets and badges. It then becomes a matter of copying the code and knowing where/how to paste it.
I use basic HTML code EVERY DAY. From Facebook notes to blog posts to social media news releases–basic code is essential.
To get started, here a few sites to bookmark and visit when you need it:
- HTML Code Tutorial
- w3schools.com: HTML Basics
- WebSource: Basic HTML Tags/Codes/Web Page Design
- IBD Host: Basic HTML
#2 – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for PR
Don’t know what SEO is? It is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (”organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. (Does that Wikipedia definition still have you saying, “huh”?)
As a public relations professional, SEO allows you to:
- Garner media coverage
- Create quality keyword anchor backlinks for your website.
- Rank in Google and Yahoo News for your keywords
- Bring content to your audience
If you want to go beyond basic SEO for public relations, check out experts like Brent Payne (@brentdpayne) SEO director for Tribune Technology. In fact, the previous sentence was all SEO for Brent! I’m driving traffic to both his site and his company’s site by hyperlinking to them.
#3 – Social Media Release (SMR) or Social Media News Release (SMNR)
Okay, I’m sure most of us can agree that we’ve “been there, done that” with the “is the press release dying” conversation. While some are busy having the conversation, others of us are using social media news releases (SMRs). I use SMRs to distribute information to the media, increase SEO and CHANGE THE WAY people are interacting with my organization’s (and my own) news.
If you have no idea what a SMR is. Stop reading right now and take a look at one.
A SMR allows you to create an interactive experience with your company/business news. It includes photos, audio and video to compliment your text. Furthermore, this text can be hyperlinked and upon distribution can be shared via ANY social network.
Public relations professionals should be able to determine when a SMR is the right strategy for publicity. Learning to incorporate a SMR into a PR professional’s skill set is so important, I’m declaring it number three in the top five four skills.
#4 – Establish an online presence
If you’re reading this, then number four is a huge “duh” to you. However, new grads may not yet realize the value of a strong online presence.
PR professionals become more valuable to employers when packaged with the backing of a strong online following. Have you thought about the power of a strong network as a perk to a new employer?
If you do not yet have accounts on these social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn–DO IT! I already question the credibility of anyone in the communications field who is not a part of at least one of these networks. In the coming years social media platforms will change and capabilities will improve, but a basic understanding of how to engage them in PR will remain the same.
There is more to your online presence than social media. An online presence incorporates your website, blogs, photo and video sharing sites (e.g. Flickr and YouTube), memberships on other websites–even comments you post on other sites and blogs.
These are my thoughts on the top four skills, what are yours?