9 non-PR skills every PR professional needs
Each week, Dear Gracie answers questions from ProfNet Connect readers with advice from the network of nearly 50,000 ProfNet experts.
I teach a class on corporate communications and PR. Knowing how to communicate well is an obvious skill that every PR person needs—but what about the non-obvious skills? What do my students need to learn for PR that doesn’t come to mind immediately? In other words, what skills do they need to know to survive in the real PR world that we don’t normally associate with PR? How will it help them?
Dear Superfluously Skilled,
Eight ProfNet experts give it to you straight:
1. Management and teamwork experience
“If you run an account or a PR business, managing others is a huge part of the job,” says Jennefer Witter, president of The Boreland Group. “Knowing how to manage is an art.”
PR pros who do not know how to work with their team members to get the very best (in what we all know is a very stressful occupation) will suffer from a high churn rate, says Witter. PR reps need to earn team members’ trust and loyalty to make them stick around.
Instability within a PR team can impact accounts, says Witter—because who wants to work with a new face who has to learn everything from scratch every few months?
“Chemistry among team members is important,” Witter concludes. “One bad apple can upset an entire apple cart.”
2. Financial skills
The ability to price PR services is an important skill that often gets overlooked, says Witter. “Finances are the key to a healthy agency, and if you don’t price properly, you can lose income.” At the end of the day, PR reps don’t want to find themselves in debt.
“When coming to a figure, it’s important not to only look at the overall picture, but the granular details as well,” Witter continues.
One of the first questions Witter asks clients is: “What is your budget?”
“If the number does not meet my base, it’s best to be honest and let them know that a professional relationship, at that price, will not work out,” she says. Explain why, and offer solutions. Maybe the client could have a project-based account, or go to a consultant instead of a full-service firm.
To determine appropriate pricing, Witter says PR reps should consider questions like:
• How many hours will you and your staff put against the project?
• Will you need outside resources?
• Are you marking up expenses or funneling through as is?
• What expenses will the client not pay for?
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