Listen, be kind and be curious: the skills PRs will need in 2023

As we head into the New Year, it’s an opportunity to reflect on the media landscape and the skills PR professionals will need. Below are five key skill sets that are vital for success in 2023.

Be strategic

It’s very easy for PR professionals to focus on the tactical activities and key outputs such as coverage, but the importance of a strategic approach cannot be underestimated.

It is vital that all clients build out their communication strategy - a strategy that should directly support the business plan. Creative storytelling ideas which cover both earned and owned media are then born out of the strategic messaging. Only then do we can you have the confidence that every tactic, whether it be a round-table, whitepaper, blog, thought leadership, or media interview, is strategically aligned and will instill trust and credibility with an organisation’s target buyers.

Be multi-disciplinary

PR, at its core, is about building relationships and managing reputation, and so we need to have our eyes wide open to what that entails. That means thinking flexibly about PR.

Whilst media relations and content creation continues to be vitally important, pitching to journalists, and knowing what they want, remains critical. With that comes the understanding that the media landscape is ever changing.

Video or audio interviews are no longer the sole remit of a broadcast journalist. They are now being used by a print journalist on their website or even on their social media channels. And they could be recorded over a video call in your spokesperson’s living room.

As a PR, you need to be thinking about the big picture. That means ensuring you tag a journalist or their media outlet on social media you put out highlighting the media coverage. It all helps to build relationships. And of course, you have to be thinking about your organisation’s owned media - your organisation’s social media accounts and online channels.

You also need to be thinking about podcasts, online networking events, e-newsletters and webinars that your company could host.

Be curious

They say curiosity killed the cat, but it is a definite bonus in PR. Whilst you might say curiosity is not a skill, I beg to differ. I would suggest it’s a skill that needs to be cultivated.

Much like the journalists we work with, we need to be the one asking the hard questions. We need to understand the business or businesses we work with from top to bottom.

Without this understanding, we may miss the pieces of gold that could make a great article for the media or a fantastic case study for an e-newsletter.

And with that curiosity, comes a realisation that we can’t know everything. Some might feel that by asking questions, they’re admitting they don’t know something they should. By asking questions, they’re admitting weakness, or a lack of knowledge. But if you don’t ask questions, stories don’t get uncovered, plus any comment to a journalist is only half-baked.

Be a deep listener

Related to the art of curiosity, is deep listening - without it, you’ll miss the hidden gems. It’s how journalists uncover the front-page exclusive and as a PR, part of your job is to tell stories. Don’t miss them because you haven’t taken the time to listen properly.

Be kind, decent and honest

Being kind, decent and honest will go a long way in a world in flux. As PR professionals, we are the ethical litmus paper for our clients. If we can’t embody moral values ourselves, and are deceent in how we treat each other, then we have a serious problem - no matter how well we have mastered our professional PR skills.

Written by Liz Churchman, client service director at agency EC-PR

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