When you ask people what the top things a PR professional should know or learn are, you hear a variety of answers.
Things such as: He needs to know math, she must be good at technology, he needs to stay on top of the latest trends, she must understand business processes and operations, and so on….
So what are the most important traits for a PR professional?
Whether new or not so new to PR, there are five traits I believe to be essential in 2015 and the years to come.
Attention to Details
In a world with so much happening at the same time, where people’s attention spans are less than three seconds, with so much content to read, tools to understand, and high-demanding clients, PR professionals must be able to pay attention to details.
Focus on your task at hand and forget about Twitter, Facebook, phone, emails, or colleagues.
This so-called multitasking is just making you waste valuable time.
Pay attention to the task at hand and forget distractions.
Listen to Understand, Not to Reply
Martin Waxman said it so well in his recent post “Why Do So Many People Suck at Communications,” many PR professionals rely on their egos to lead their communications and it prevents them from actually…well, communicating.
We listen to respond, not to understand!
We are so focused on getting our own ideas out, we forget who’s talking and what they are trying to say.
So, take a step back, relax and make a concentrated effort to really hear the other person.
Let them speak, gather your thoughts and then give an educated answer.
You are a PR professional, trained to communicate your clients´message and represent them in front of the world (online and offline,) you must practice what you preach.
Knowing your target audience requires listening to them in a way that allows you to understand who they are, what they need, and how you can best craft your response to resonate with them directly.
Always Be Curious
You’ve heard of this one, right?
The first time I heard about it was in college in my communications class (don’t want to think how many years ago!).
It’s not old school, it’s not new school.
It’s a fact!
If you want to succeed as a PR professional, you need to be curious.
Find out details that are not visible at first sight (see trait one) and learn about new things happening in your industry that can better help your client—whether tactics or strategies.
When you are curious, you are a step ahead on what’s happening in the PR industry, your client’s industry, and the world in general.
You develop great foresight and learn about new tools and how they can help you reach your (and your client’s) goals.
Helpfulness Will Never Fail
I see around me many a young PR professional who only talks about themselves—about what they need, and who can help them.
As with any relationship, one-sided goals never win.
You have to be of help to others, put yourself out there, and give a hand to someone who needs you.
This might be a colleague who needs advice on landing a client, someone just starting out in social media, or a non-profit organization in desperate need of PR. There are endless ways you can help others and business karma is alive and strong.
Remember PR is about relationships and it always has been. It’s not just about media relations or publicity and social media—it’s about building meaningful relationships with people that count. So go out there—no matter how busy you are—and offer your help.
You’ll feel better about yourself and it will come back to you when least expected.
A PR Professional Must Be Professional
This one never goes out of style. The way you start in this business is the way people will see you as a PR professional forever.
Be professional at all times and learn to say no when things get out of hand or go against what you know to be right. You want to keep your head straight and sleep well at night, so don’t spin the truth and don’t put yourself in compromising situations.
When you are a successful PR professional, it’s easy to think you’re invincible.
You are not!
In the words of Warren Buffett, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to lose it.”
This should be your motto in your professional and personal life.
Traits of a PR Professional
Are those new?
Of course not!
But they are (or should be) a core value for every successful PR professional.
In today’s crazy world, where people promise immediate success and overnight riches, we tend to forget that nothing comes for free.
Want to succeed?
Put in the work and dedication.
And, remember, nothing that’s worth having ever comes easy.
No matter how many tools you have, you still have to put in the work to get there.
Those are my five essential traits for every PR professional? Which ones would you add?
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