It’s that time of year again when students are finishing up with their final exams, and getting ready to join the ‘real world’. Many are considering their next move, and technology PR is a great industry for any graduate to consider. Our industry thrives off diversity – you don’t have to be a PR or journalism student to get ahead, and here at Spark we have graduates in politics, languages and economics, alongside more traditional PR and journalism majors. Nevertheless, there are still some must-have skills which are essential to make an effective PR person. Below is my list – and some of these might not be what you expect.
Word, PowerPoint and Excel skills
PR professionals at every level need to know how to appropriately handle these Office programs. Nothing ruins a brilliantly written article, sparkling ideas or fantastic results more than bad formatting, as it’s a distraction for clients from the meat of what matters most. What’s more, being skilled in these areas saves valuable time on a day-to-day basis: no one wants to spend hours trying to get all their bullet points lining up when they could be doing something more interesting and important. So being highly proficient in these programs is a must.
An interest in SEO and Google Analytics
Knowing about the principles of SEO and how to take advantage of useful tools like Google Analytics will be a real boon to any prospective PR professional. PR is increasingly driving online traffic and analytics tools help us to track and measure the success of campaigns in terms of website traffic and search terms used. Demonstrating a clear understanding of this will certainly help you get a foot in the door.
Advanced research skills
We do an awful lot of research in PR. We use it to create pitches to attract journalists, as interesting additions to by-lined articles, and to help us make our campaigns more creative. And in the world of technology PR, we can be researching some pretty niche things. Need to know how many business trips were taken in Europe last year? How about how many data centres there are in the world and how much total power they use? What about how many people own Wi-Fi only tablets in the UK? This information is all out there…somewhere. Very much like with researching for dissertations, we just need to know how to dig it out, and make sure it’s from a credible source. Being proficient at searching for information makes this job a whole lot easier.
The ability to ‘sell’
In PR, pitching a story to media is much like sales. You have to be knowledgeable about your product and confident to get on the phones to cold call occasionally cantankerous journalists. You then need to be persuasive, persistent and ready to deflect any objections that might arise, until you achieve the holy grail of PR: good, on-message coverage for your clients. It’s not always the easiest of tasks, but it can certainly be one of the most rewarding.
These are just some of the capabilities that we look for in our grads. What do you all consider an essential PR skill?
(Image: By strategy:User:Eekim (Word cloud generated by http://wordle.net/) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)