By Katelynn Sortino
With the ubiquity of the Internet, brands now have to compete with practically everybody else for the time and attention of consumers. This creates new, intriguing challenges and opportunities for those in PR. How do you get your client’s brand noticed when the Duolingo bird is literally stealing your customer base’s entire attention?
Learning how to navigate the Internet and the rapidly evolving technology (yes, even Clubhouse, whatever that is) will help you stand out, deliver for your clients, and crush it at PR.
Top Tech Skills Aspiring PR Pros Must Master:
1. Connecting with People Online
It’s an absolutely vital skill in PR to learn how to talk to people like they’re humans even though you’ve only ever seen their profile picture or Twitter avatar. Sometimes when we’re tasked with contacting hundreds of random people online (hello, journalists and influencers), we can forget that they are, you know, real people.
Learn how to tailor communications to the individual, not just their job title. Creating, cultivating, and maintaining relationships with people purely online is a massively underrated but incredibly important skill, and an important one to staying in colleagues’ good graces (and out of their spam folders).
Part of doing this well is approaching others with the mindset of “how can I make this a mutually beneficial relationship? How can I both request help and provide value?”
For many, the importance of keeping this in mind will only become crystal clear after the 4,000th generic, bland, boring marketing email where the sender slightly (but infuriatingly) misspells your name. Even though the correct spelling is literally right there. Right. There.
A few great networking resources:
- 8 Tips for Building Your Network from Scratch
- How To Build Real Relationships in the Virtual World
- 5 Steps to Create a Supportive PR Network for Yourself
2. Software Savvy
The Internet has blessed us with an array of fantastic software that makes our jobs and lives easier.
Ask any public relations professional, and they’ll likely be excited to share their tools, or their “PR tech stack,” which is jargon for “the apps and software we use to do the things we do.” Almost none of them will pull out an old-school Rolodex or even (shudder the thought) an Excel spreadsheet.
So what do PR professionals use in their day-to-day life?
- Client Relationship Management (CRM) software for managing contacts.
- Email software for communications and campaign distributions.
- Analytics software for tracking data.
- Media monitoring and social media software for distributing content and tracking brand mentions.
- Audience research software for knowing who and where your target audience is.
There’s an almost overwhelming array of tools to help PR folks get the job done. Trying out a bunch of different software will help you get a feel for your preferred workflow. Looking to sites like Capterra and g2 will let you compare features and prices, but there’s nothing quite like cracking open a SaaS and trying it out.
More resources to learn about PR software:
- Tech Tools to Help Advance Your PR Career
- PR Stack
- The PR Tech Stack: Tools for Advanced PR Management
3. Data-Driven Strategy
For our PR ancestors, tracking data was a big struggle. PR folks would just put content out into the universe and cross their fingers, hoping that the right people saw it and cared. Now we can see how our campaigns are connecting with audiences in real-time and use that information to fine-tune future communications. We can see that our corporate TikTok dance campaign was not only unpopular, but deeply upsetting to the general public.
However, this also means that communications professionals are responsible for tracking and understanding data and analytics. Whether it’s social media presence, web traffic, click response rates, journalist media mentions. If it’s out there, it’s now trackable. And PR professionals are expected to understand and account for these analytics.
Data and analytics resources:
- PR Technology, Data and Insights: Igniting a Positive Return on Your Communications Investment by Mark Weiner
- Awaken Your Superhero blog
- The best analytics tools to measure your PR efforts
4. Quality Content Writing
Of course, writing predates technology. Since long before the Internet became ubiquitous, public relations professionals had to be competent writers. However, the type of writing and audiences have shifted dramatically.
Public relations professionals are no longer just writing press releases, mission statements, and public apologies. The average person in PR is now writing social media posts, blog posts, SEO content, and more. Sure, you can write a heartfelt apology for an embarrassing corporate blunder, but can you do it in less than 280 characters?
So, while you do not have to be the next James Joyce, knowing your way around a proverbial typewriter will benefit both you and your clients.
Some excellent PR writing resources:
- Crucial Skills for Copywriting and How to Develop Them
- How to Improve Your PR Writing
- Strategic Writing: Multimedia Writing for Public Relations, Advertising and More by Bonnie Poovey Short, Charles Marsh, and David W. Guth
- How to write a great press release (with 142 top press release examples)
- Spin Sucks: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age by Gini Dietrich
The bottom line
Public relations is online now more than ever. Knowing how to network remotely, measure analytics, tell engaging stories, and connect with digital audiences will give you a huge competitive advantage and ensure you are at the top of your game.
Photo Credit: InstaPhotos