A career in PR beyond 2020 – the PR professional of the future
Attending the recently held In2 Innovation Summit, hosted by The Holmes Report, resulted in a pinch of retrospection and healthy dose of future gazing regarding a career in PR beyond 2020.
PR professionals should ask themselves what their KPIs will look like and what traits will make a good PR consultant in 2020. But perhaps the most important question is: What changes (read investments) do I need to make now to ensure a robust career in this industry.
Having joined the industry in the early 2000s as an intern, when faxing was a formal means of communicating with media and five years before Facebook was launched, the biggest changes have been how we are creating, sharing and consuming content. Flexibility is par for the course in the PR industry, but how can we prepare ourselves for future disruptions?
Here are some key takeouts from the conference that can be of value to aspiring consultants and those still on the fringes of transforming their digital skills.
Good to know if you’re a student and considering a career in PR
Before pursuing any career, you have to be sure that you have an intense love for what you’re doing. If you are curious by nature, understand what makes good content and what it looks like, if you are obsessive about starting a conversation, have a nose for news, are interested in analytics and results, want to add value, are a problem solver, enjoy collaboration and are willing to learn on the job to continually add new skills to your repertoire then PR is the career for you. But if these traits do not describe you then you might want to reconsider your career choice.
Panelists at the conference emphasised that not everyone is a content creator or writer, but that professional communication skills are sorely lacking, especially among students entering the industry as interns. Email communication to clients and suppliers needs to be error-free and convey the message succinctly and clearly. Writing tests should therefore continue to be used during the interview process to evaluate candidates’ writing capabilities. Remember though that an error-free CV and accompanying covering letter is your first real test when applying for a position.
Attention to detail remains a prerequisite. Whether it is completing a report exactly like the client wants it or attaching the right file to an email, getting the small things right will make a PR intern indispensable.
Transformation of skills is key for a resilient career beyond 2020
“PR is dead” This was the title of one of the speaker’s presentations. A statement that is concerning and should be a wake-up call for consultants who are stuck in the traditional way of doing PR with an unwillingness to learn about digital marketing and communications.
Another message from the conference, and one which PR consultants can turn into an opportunity for growth, is that content specialists are lacking with PR, marketing and digital practices sharing this pain point. Consultants who enjoy creating content for clients can build a future career as digital content experts.
Beyond the need for content specialists, there is a requirement for analytics and consultation. PR consultants must be able to show clients what the impact of the content is that they are creating and whether it is moving the needle for them in terms of awareness and lead generation. In order to do this, they have to understand SEO and what a Google Analytics report is telling them. PROs have to join the lead generation and analytics conversations that are happening around their clients’ online assets and they need to be able to voice their opinions with confidence.
A successful future in the industry calls for flexibility. Consultants may be appointed to fulfil a specific role, but the business will require them to move into another role later on. This calls for generalists. They are multi-skilled individuals that are comfortable with traditional and digital tasks. For example, they are able to interview a client and draft a press release, but now have the necessary skills to film the client, edit the footage and share the video content.
Talent that is interchangeable will be a must in the years to come. Isn’t in practitioners’ best interest to upskill themselves to remain a valuable asset to the PR consultancy of 2020 and beyond?