With all professions, there are some core skills needed in order to do a job and do it well. For PR, the skills that probably spring to mind are communication (that’s a given), relationship-building, strategic thinking and research.
Throughout a survey I conducted with 10 PR students, the skills they most associated with PR were communication and building relationships.
Whilst people skills are a must, and being able to tell a story well on social media is now an essential for a PR pro, there’s a skill that often doesn’t get mentioned as often as it should: problem solving.
Problem-solving, a skill most associated with a jigsaw puzzle or a maths equation. But, in fact it’s a skill that most of us use everyday and something that PR pros have to put into practice at work.
So, why is problem-solving a good skill to develop when looking for a career in PR?
No company is immune to its fair share of problems, whether this be fixing the dodgy printer, to solving something extremely vital to the business. Problem-solving is a skill which employers of most businesses, in most industries desire in a potential candidate. This is not only for the job role in itself but the skills that also branches off from a good problem-solver. Problem-solving skills are very much linked to logic, creativity, resilience, imagination and determination. So, in a creative and logic-based industry such as public relations, a candidate who is good at solving the problems is much to be desired by employers.
When taking a client on board or starting a new project or campaign, there is always going to be a goal for what the client wants or expects from the PR work. Often these goals aren’t always as straight-forward as they first appear to a client so it’s the job of the PR person to find ways in which they can help the client. After this, it’s then it’s to find ways to get to the goal and get through all of the obstacles that are likely to come up along the way.
Crisis and reputation management
Crisis management and reputation management are popular skills for a PR person or agency to have. Without a PR agency in place for crisis management, brands can barely manage or know how to manage crisis on their own and things often spiral out of control, leaving the situation to get worse. When things go wrong, the problem needs to be solved. This is where PR comes in. An element of problem-solving in crisis and reputation management is part and parcel of the job. Being a good problem-solver in PR is not just important for when the worst happens but also in the preparations beforehand. Being proactive enough to understand when, how and why things may go wrong and also what can be done when they do is a vital role in PR. More can be read about this here.
When thinking of the world’s biggest problems, it often always boils down to one thing: people. It’s no secret to say that people are problematic. Public relations is full of people. It’s an industry for people. So if you’re a PR pro who’s never had an encounter with a problem solved by a person then you’ve had a smooth ride so far. These problems are not always a bad thing though. Sometimes this comes down to the lack of knowledge and understanding of what PR people actually do. As frustrating as it is sometimes to empathise with people who find it difficult to leave it to professionals, it’s the job of a problem-solver to look at the bigger picture and think what can we do better to educate people so that opinions change and issues are solved.
While public relations is ultimately the skill of communication, story telling and relationship building, problem solving is clearly a fundamental skill that PR pros should adopt or develop in their professional life. From being an adequate problem-solver come many other skills that are essential for a career in PR. These include, as previously mentioned: creativity, logic, determination and resilience which will all bulk up a job application with desired skills from employers.
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