PR Professionals: Adapt or die!

PR Professionals: Adapt or Die!

Things are changing, and changing fast. Even in just the past year, the profile of the PR professional I recruit has changed dramatically. At all levels, I have seen a shift from briefs for standard job titles being similar across all agencies, to the creation of a whole new type of candidate that could be deemed ‘non–existent’ – which, for recruiters and hiring managers, means finding creative ways to connect with diverse talent. For PR talent, it means developing skills that you never thought you would have to learn.

In order to understand what skills PR professionals of the future need in order to stay relevant in the job market, you must understand two things:

1. What is driving the need for “futuristic” PR talent?

Answered simply, it’s the evolution of PR that has taken place due to the heavy influence of and demand for digital, and budget conscious clients looking for integrated solutions.

I hear a number of agencies saying that they offer only traditional PR because their clients don’t embrace digital, don’t need it in their space, etc. It’s no coincidence that these same clients are the ones saying they have no hiring needs, and are not acquiring new business on the whole. In fact, many are losing new business to agencies that are incorporating social and digital into their campaigns, developing digital divisions, or working alongside/partnering with a digital agency, creative agency and an advertising agency to create holistic campaigns. They don’t risk losing market share this way, and they get different types of minds weighing in on PR campaigns, giving them an interesting spin.

2. What does this “new-age” PR Professional look like?

The PR professional of the future needs to be constantly aware of, and up-skilling in, social media and digital, and they must throw out the notion that the two are one in the same. Digital can cover a variety of channels including: mobile apps, mobile marketing, SEO, PPC, display advertising, email marketing, conversion optimisation, analytics, etc. A superficial level of knowledge across these channels is no longer good enough.

While it’s not always necessary to have the skills to physically execute digital campaigns, PR professionals need to understand how and why we utilise these channels and how they work together in an overarching strategy for your client. That said, in recent months, I have seen an influx of clients looking for people who can execute digital campaigns using a variety of tools/software. I believe that the more technical expertise one develops, the more relevant and marketable he or she will be moving forward.

How do I get there?

The first step is for both PR professionals and PR agencies to acknowledge that this change is very real, even if clients in your sector are not yet jumping on board. The rate of change is proven by the fact that 50% of the job titles that Firebrand recruited last year did not exist 3-5 years ago.

If you desire to learn more, take courses, or as a team, collectively ask your agency to get on board with training sessions on digital. If you’re job hunting, look for agencies that offer training programmes in digital.

It’s better to evolve early, not only so you can up your offering to clients and expand existing business, but also so you do not find yourself unprepared when the client suddenly does demand digital as part of the PR strategy, and you cannot offer it, but your competitor can.

More reading:

What does a PR Professional do anyway?
PR Agencies: Why your staff are leaving
PR Professionals: What works better for you? Agency or in-house?


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