How fast is PR growing? Let’s look at that yardstick, Cannes Lions? There were 1,969 PR entries this year. And 1,394 in adland’s hot category, Branded Content & Entertainment. Add the tallies of number crunchers - IBIS has stated PR’s 5% growth p.a. in Australia, 2010 to 2015, is expected to continue, and The 2015 Industry Barometer from the International Communications Consultancy Organisation’s survey of major PR agencies around the world has found that most think the industry will grow by at least 10% by the end of 2015.
PR is recruiting and It’s easy to see why you’d want a piece of the action. Do you know what you need to have, or acquire, to grab your handful? Here’s what someone from somewhere in the world told us (if we posted it without his/her name attached). “A PR professional needs a thick skin, an ability to duck daily missiles and an in-built desire to smile even when you’ve been told you’re story idea is crap!!! But seriously, we need so much more than that - a predisposition to drink copious amounts of savvy, the ability to sit around a lunch table with a technology writer and appear overly interested, and an ability to be able to write a page and a half in 20 minutes of perfect descriptive prose on a new margarine product.”
If you’re still reading, then you have passed the pre-test. You probably do have the essential - grit. Here’s what else you need:
Joy Clark, owner Joy Clark & Associates: One of the most important things a PR person needs to be mindful of…relationships. Really get to know the journalists you work with and the publications they represent.
Respect their deadlines and build a relationship based on honesty and trust. Don’t offer what you can’t deliver, and be the best you can for your clients.
Lee Sharrock, director of global creative PR, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide: To get ahead in PR you need to be good at networking; developing and maintaining your contacts with media; finding the universal message of the story and communicating it to press; thinking outside the box and keeping up with global news and trends. In a virtual, digital world I still think it¹s invaluable to make the effort to meet editors and journalist in the flesh - just one initial face to face meeting can achieve far more beneficial results than a hundred emails.
Chloe Turner, account manager, PPR: You need a tough hide and genuine smile. Use the thick skin to shield yourself from the emotions of others in the heat of the moment, and then use your ability to smile to convey that all is in control. Despite what you may think, you don’t need to be an expert in everything - you just need to be able to get your hands on someone that is. And in the end keep things in context. It is PR, not ER.
Graham White, group managing director, Howorth: We never stop hearing about the changing pace of work impacted by technology and how work gets done. So if you fancy a career in PR, let’s get a few things straight. First, you have to understand that it’s a dynamic, adapting industry. Second, to succeed, aside from the obvious craft skills, you must come to work with the mindset of just do it. Why? It’s fast paced, deadlines are immediate, pitches are next week, clients need it yesterday, and so the list goes on. Don’t wait for things to happen; make them happen. While PR people are generally used to being flexible, being resourceful is what I’d argue makes the difference between a good and a great PR pro. Do more with less is another well-worn expression, but it’s less about finance and more an opportunity for improvement and trusting in your own capabilities and those of your colleagues. Simply put, you are often much more capable than you believe, so open that door to being resourceful and achieving more. Oh, and work life balance - my view is that you make it happen!
Susan Redden Makatoa, group managing director, corporate, Ogilvy PR: Here are the things all PR peeps need in their armoury:
- Big heart: you need to be able to place yourself in the shoes of your audience, and the most important quality here is empathy. You want to be thinking, “if that were me, how would I feel?”
- Creative sparkle: competition for eyes and ears is fierce. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re in consumer, tech, B2B or corporate, you’re going to have to think and work creatively to get great stories up.
- Big girl/boy boots: it takes some gumption to alert clients (internal or external) to the risk involved in their big idea. You’ll need to be brave – and diplomatic – to avoid disaster.
- Curiosity: you want to be always asking questions. What is this business trying to achieve here? Why would the audience we want to reach care? How does that new app work? Who is that new blogger and what is it about them that people love so much?
- Fire in the belly: you need to be hungry for great results. If you’re not air punching after a successful social campaign or big brand activation, you’re in the wrong job. This is what drives you through the good and not-so-good times.
Jorn Sanda, head of insights, PPR: Sagacious: It’s one quality that encapsulates wisdom, insight, intelligence, understanding, judgement, acuity, astuteness, sense, canniness, sharpness, depth, profundity, perceptiveness, percipience, perspicuity, discernment, erudition, learning and knowledgeability. And it rolls of the tongue beautifully. Succinct communication is all about omission rather than emission. By knowing the facts, you can edit communication down to what’s exciting to the audience, which is paramount. A message is not what’s sent, but how it is received.
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