what skills do you need for a career in pr?

Thinking of moving into a career in PR? Here are some tips from a master.

by Sarah Stimson

Whenever I recruit graduates for the Taylor Bennett Foundation it is always at the front of my mind that at the end of the ten weeks of PR training we expect our alumni to embark on careers in the industry, so there are certain raw ingredients I'm always on the lookout for. PR employers tell us that these are the basic skills they’re looking for in entry-level hires.

Likeability

This is difficult to quantify but it’s still really important. Keep in mind that your colleagues will spend more time with you than with their own families so it's important that you're easy to get along with. This includes being enthusiastic, willing and keen to learn. A positive attitude goes a long way to making you easy to hire. Whiners are never popular and the ability to build good relationships is really vital.

Writing

Next come skills which employers tell us regularly are at the top of their wish lists and number one on that list is strong writing skills. In comms, the written word is king so you must be able to use an apostrophe correctly and string a decent sentence together.

Media & Current Affairs

An interest in the media and current affairs is also a standard requirement so only reading the Metro and the Guardian is not going to cut it.  Both those papers are perfectly good and you should continue to read them, but expand your reading material to include other broadsheets and tabloids.  Most grads we speak to get their news online these days – and that’s fine too – but you need to make sure you’re getting the full spectrum of news coverage.

A note on snobbishness here:  Lots of graduates laugh when we tell them to read The Sun, Mirror and Star as well as a range of broadsheets and feel it’s a bit beneath them to read tabloid news. When you’re working in PR your clients will be keen to secure coverage in tabloids with millions of readers so don’t be so quick to dismiss them.

Attention to Detail

Good attention to detail is really important not only in your written work (where it’s vital) but in everything you do. Send out info to the wrong journalist and you won’t be popular.

Social Media Savvy
Increasingly employers expect graduates to be fully aware of what’s going on in social media and how to use those tools.  If you’re not already a social media fan, it’s time to join up and get stuck in.

Sarah Stimson is the Programme Director at the Taylor Bennett Foundation and author of 'How To Get A Job In PR’.  She blogs at http://www.stimsonsarah.com

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