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The skills you’ll need to be a PR star in 2016

The Christmas holidays are a great time to take stock of your career. When you head home for the holidays on Christmas Eve and put your feet up for a well-earned rest, perhaps you should spend time thinking about where 2016 will take you and making some new-year resolutions about your skills acquisition.

I suggest, if the PR Santa were to drop some skills into your stocking, they ought to be:

Social media

The number of social media training courses currently on offer is going through an explosion and we should all commit to doing social media better in 2016. As our industry goes through its biggest ever revolution, you need to be ahead of the curve on digital media and its uses within PR. You could ask for a training course on your Christmas list, or you could just sign up and get on with it and learn as you go. Either way, you have to do it.


While not a core PR skill, planning is a vital part of achieving success in your PR programmes. This is even more the case with the rise in social and online media as things get more complex and user-generated content increases. If you plan well then you’ll be able to deal with the unexpected better. There are also courses in planning organised by the CIPR and PRCA, some of which include digital planning. I will be asking Father Christmas for one of these this year as it will help me to learn how to fit print, broadcast and online into one plan, using all platforms to best effect. Then, next year, my well-planned Christmas list will ensure I really get what I want!


Creativity is not just for the consumer PR teams, it is also valuable for corporate and public affairs planning. If you can learn good creativity skills then you will help secure your role in a PR team, you will bring skills that will translate across all disciplines and you will be centre of attention in brainstorms. And just think, you can put your creativity skills into practice by organising next year’s Christmas party! Creativity can either be learned as you go along, or what I have always found works well, is for one person to attend a creativity course and then come back and impart the knowledge across the team. Again, creativity is essential in the new-media age and will be the route to surviving the changes our industry faces.

Team management

Getting the best out of teams is really important as good PR depends on strong teamwork. If you add team management and motivation to your Christmas list, you will ensure you learn how to work with people both junior and senior to you. I have worked in consultancy for many years and I have always noticed that the least recognised skills are teamwork and client service. And yet these are core to what we do! Much of the skill can be acquired within the workplace and whilst a course is a useful way to point you in the right direction, there is no substitute for watching and learning from those around you – whether they are naughty or nice.

Crisis communications

Requests for crisis training are always top of the list when people are asked what PR skills they would like training for. Unfortunately, I do believe that good crisis PR is something you can only really learn on the job. The core skills are those you will use day to day and you cannot beat experience for knowing how to deal with a crisis. So if crisis comms is on your wish list this year, go into work and put up your hand and ask to be involved. You will only get the skill by jumping in the deep end or by following others. I am sure Santa is a master at dealing with bad weather, delivery issues or sick reindeer, but I believe he honed his skills entirely on the job rather than in a training course.

Team building

This is the easy request! At Christmas you will, no doubt, be heading off for a Christmas party – a brilliant chance for the team to have fun and celebrate the successes of 2015. My firm will be toasting the outcomes of our merger, which happened in April. And who knows what 2016 will bring, but with some core PR skills in our stockings, we will be in a good place to continue the upward trend of 2015. Cheers!

Angela Casey is Managing Director of Pagoda Porter Novelli –

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