It is becoming more apparent that the future of communication belongs to the Internet. Newspapers are on the way out, and the majority of reporters and journalists alike are moving forward toward the world wide web.
As a student, during this time of innovation and rapid change, it is easy for me to notice the shift. If not, I would be putting myself at risk of being irrelevant and outdated.
Companies are expecting to work with public relations firms that are relevant and innovative. Agencies expect young PR professionals to know the ins and outs of social media. PR pros need to be able to manipulate the tools to achieve success in social media initiatives.
Adam Singer outlines skills that all PR professionals need to know:
Understand HTML, PHP, CSS, MySQL: These skills are not only necessary for techies, they are simple and when you start to get good they easily allow you to present content exactly how you want.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Placing content on the web and utilizing keywords, tags and external links will help your chances of being placed higher on search engines like google. Have large goals in mind for your company or client website.
Ability to work in WordPress, Durpal, Expression Engine etc.: As a PR professional you need to be able to work with all communications tools. Learning to work with CMS will allow you to easily work on a client’s website, networks and blogs.
Understanding of what defines successful content: As businesses start to see the benefits of using social media, there will be less of a need from PR professionals to get them into the tools, but the real challenge will be helping them create content that gets shared.
“A blog needs to be written and kept by a company, not by their PR agency. But, companies will increasingly turn to their PR agency for consulting and creating content, which drives relevant traffic/links and builds a subscriber base.”
Proven ability to build a successful blog: Create a personal blog on content that you are passionate about. It is important to show you embrace the medium, understand it and can be insightful and interesting.
Understanding of RSS and how t use feed creatively: As a PR professional understanding RSS, using it to read content and knowing how to use syndication is vital. Use RSS to your advantage to build a fanbase, spread messages and get content deep within the social web.
Understanding microblogging: Twitter, FriendFeed and other services are a great way to share content and interacting with customers. PR and communications people should be at the forefront of this and closely study the relationships formed and the way people discuss and interact with content.
Ability to process and understand site analytics: Learning to interpret site analytics, see trends and make recommendations is a vital skill for PR people. It is also important to be able to explain to clients how you can measure the success of a social media campaign.
Understanding of what is possible with web apps: Businesses are looking to their PR firms to help them build creative web apps that attract thousands of users across social media platforms. You need to know what is possible to create with these applications to be able to create and complete a successful strategic social media plan.
Hopefully these tips will help you in your preparation to become a public relations professional.