By Luke Smith
Businesses and professionals worldwide are thankful for Public Relations pros. It’s sometimes seems magical how they can create a favorable public image for their clients and rebuild from situations that harm their clients’ reputations. Much of their success is due in part to their education and skill development.
Unfortunately, pursuing post-graduation skills training in PR can be expensive, time-consuming, and ultimately unavailable to many. Thankfully, there are ways to self-educate in PR and develop the necessary skills to thrive in the profession.
Aspiring PR professionals who want to develop outside formal training and education may want to check out these five skills that you can develop through the self-education route.
Intercultural communication is one of the most sought-after skills in PR. You’re likely to interact with people of varied backgrounds. So, it’s essential to learn as much as you can about connecting and communicating with people from different cultures, languages, and backgrounds.
Preply tells us that “In business, intercultural communication allows individuals to interact respectfully and constructively. It encourages the finding of common ground and an honoring of differences.” Because PR is a people-centric career choice, fostering positive relationships with people who appreciate differences is crucial.
So, use the internet to research the history, societal norms, languages, and other customs in various cultures. Then, watch videos from experts on intercultural communication and apply what you learn in real-life situations. You could also enlist the help of a tutor to learn a new language or simply ask questions when you don’t understand something.
Ultimately, you want to approach intercultural communication with respect at the forefront. Additionally, written communication is a crucial skill to develop in PR.
There’s no way around all of the written communication PR professionals must do to perform their job responsibilities successfully. From press releases to emails to presentations to blog content and so forth, you’ll be asked to communicate effectively with the written word for various reasons. So, prioritize strengthening this skill.
There are plenty of free writing resources online. Just search the type of writing you’re doing or specific piece of content you’re trying to draft to get insight from expert online sources. You can also enroll in writing boot camps for a reasonable fee and learn much of what there is to know about how to write effectively.
Additionally, social media platforms like LinkedIn and Medium are a goldmine for finding talented writers sharing their expertise. And don’t forget to explore short-term internships that give you experience in things like copywriting, speech writing, blog and article content, and so forth.
PR professionals also do quite a bit of research.
You’re likely to be asked to learn a lot of things you don’t currently know anything about when you step into PR—for example, learning about a unique industry your client is in, how to create a complete media kit or the ins and outs of an emerging social media platform. Whatever the topic, you want to ensure you have sufficient research skills.
One of the best ways to develop your research skills is by taking classes. For example, you can take a low-cost Public Relations 101 course. And through the coursework, homework, team projects, and tests, you’ll learn techniques to research efficiently. In addition, you’ll develop critical thinking skills, how to analyze data for crucial information, and thoughtfully summarize your findings.
Also, you’ll need to present much of what you research to internal teams and external audiences. So, presentation skills are a must.
As a PR professional, you’ll be heavily involved with all stages of company and client presentations. You’re also likely to showcase your presentation skills in the interview process before landing a permanent position in PR. So, you want to ensure you’re equipped with what it takes to conceptualize, develop, and deliver an excellent presentation.
Taking a class geared toward refining your presentation skills is a great way to develop these skills at your own pace. For example, taking a one-day keynote training class for presentation design can educate you on creating slide decks, developing powerful messages, and how to sketch and plan your content.
Furthermore, you can practice planning, creating, and delivering presentations through various mock PR-related projects. For instance, drafting a press release on a new book coming out by a pretend client and creating a presentation for an internal team about it. In addition, learn more about presenting by watching some of your favorite speakers and taking extensive notes on their practices.
Building solid relationships is another skill you should develop to become the best version of your PR professional self.
The ability to build solid relationships with people is vital to your success in PR. Strong relationships with clients, internal team members, and media personnel are just the beginning of the long list of relationships you’ll nurture in this industry. Luckily, you’re most likely building relationships, personal or professional, each day.
But here’s where finding a mentor in PR helps tremendously. You get to see firsthand how a professional communicates and connects with clients, internal teams, and other audiences. You also can attend networking events with them and see how they go about building relationships with other professionals in the industry. And how those relationships develop over time.
So, use social media to find PR professionals near you. Then, follow them and interact with their posts regularly with comments, likes, and shares. Eventually, you can send them a DM and start a conversation about mentorship.
Ultimately, in learning to build solid relationships, you’ll create a foundation for your PR career that fosters growth.
You can absolutely educate yourself in all things public relations. So, don’t be discouraged if a formal education in PR isn’t an option right now. Instead, implement the above tips to take developing crucial PR skills into your own hands.
Image Source: Pixabay
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but PR and communications topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.