Do you work in PR? If so, chances are you’ve experienced some pretty significant changes in the last 5 years. PR teams report that the ongoing progression of social media has created an environment in which stakeholders expect more direct interaction than ever before – no longer is it enough to rely on traditional media outlets to tell your company’s news. The implications for PR teams have been significant, as they come to terms with new means of monitoring stakeholders, and creating new types of content.
What Changes do PR Teams Need to Make?
Even 10 years on from the emergence of Social Media, many
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PR teams remain optimized largely for success with traditional media (see Figure 1). The CEC has spent time recently identifying the changes that leading PR teams are making in order to succeed in a networked stakeholder environment. What is needed from an individual PR professional? What new skills are required? What’s the profile of the perfect PR hire in this digital age?
From Specialists to Generalists
It’s no secret that journalists have been forced to diversify their skill sets. We’ve seen a similar shift in the profile of new hires on corporate PR teams as well. Members that we’ve spoken to have told us that the new breed of PR professional is a generalist, rather than a specialist; for instance, where once you could probably get away with being ‘just’ a great writer, now you need to be able to do much more. One member told me that they’ve just replaced the person who managed their photo archive (narrow scope) with someone who can simultaneously manage all things visual – video, PPT, images, and so on (broad scope).
Skills Required for PR Success
The skills required of new-to-role PR professionals have broadened, and diversified:
||Traditional PR Specialist
||Social PR Generalist
||Leverages relationships with journalists in order to respond to individual events or stories
||Analyzes a wide variety of traditional and online channels to identify trends and patterns in stakeholder activity
||Understands the language, tone, and style of communication preferred by audience.
||Monitors stakeholder networks to determine preferred timing, channel, and format of communications
||Highly literate, excellent writer of long form messages
||Able to tailor writing to channel and audience
||Skilled writer, uses images accordingly
||Innovates with a wide range of media – video, audio, applications, online widgets
||Selects the channel with the widest reach
||Selects the channel with the greatest activity amongst target audience
Perhaps the greatest difference between “old world” and “new world” that we’ve noticed is the importance attached to media monitoring. The new breed of PR generalist (who has used their web-savvy to self-teach critical skills) takes full advantage of the opportunities presented by social forms of media, using data to inform all of their outreach, and to bring their other skills to bear.
Most of the companies we’ve seen measure performance according to the volume of messaging – the number of news releases distributed, the number of Facebook likes, or the number of Twitter followers. The CEC hopes to see a marked shift in the MBOs used by PR teams, to reflect the impact created by proactive outreach, rather than its volume. Instead of measuring the quantity of content distributed, why not measure the number of stakeholders who act on that communication? This could be as simple as the number of stakeholders who re-tweet your messaging, or as concrete as the number of people who buy whatever product you promoted – either way, it’s the number of stakeholders that do something based on your outreach, rather than simply the number of people that hear/read/see it.
Get in touch
We’d love to hear from you:
- How have the requirements of new PR staff changed?
- How have the skill sets on your team changed?
- Most importantly, where have these changes been driven from? Are they coming from the PR function itself, or are they being driven by external pressures?
Resources from the CEC