Here’s how PR professionals can future-proof themselves

(L-R) New White House Director of Strategic Communications check their phones as Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL) speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House following a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on April 21, 2020 in Washington, DC.

By U2B Staff 

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Our fast-changing digital economy has necessitated continuing education for PR professionals as well as communication specialists.

The adoption of new technology and trends across organisations, including the rise of social media and big data, has meant that professionals in the field must adapt to meet current business needs. 

This doesn’t mean, however, that PR professionals careers are at risk of redundancy. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that employment of PR specialists is projected to grow 6% from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. 

“The need for organisations to maintain their public image will continue to drive employment growth. Candidates can expect strong competition for jobs at advertising and public relations firms and organisations with large media exposure,” it said.

As such, building your skillset to not only stay competitive but to continue to provide value to organisations and clients is essential. 

Promising areas for upskilling

PR professionals
Upskilling is critical to staying relevant in the workforce. Source: LOIC VENANCE /AFP

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has highlighted some important skills in its State of the Profession 2019/2020 report – which explores the trends, issues, and challenges facing the industry.

Some of the common PR activities that are undertaken in the respondents’ current job include:

  • Copywriting and editing 
  • Media relations 
  • PR programmes/campaigns 
  • Crisis issues management 
  • Strategic planning 
  • Internal/employee communication 
  • Community and stakeholder relations 
  • Events, conferences 
  • Social media relations 
  • Management of people, resources 

They note that social media relations fell by four places from fifth to ninth. 

Meanwhile, crisis, issues management climbed from sixth place last year to fourth place, and internal communications jumped from eighth place to 6th place. 

As for senior roles, including those who hold managers, heads, associate directors, managing directors, and partner positions, the top five skills identified according to rank include:

  1. Copywriting and editing 
  2. Media relations 
  3. PR programmes/campaigns 
  4. Strategic planning 
  5. Crisis issues management 

For PR professionals who want to upskill in the above areas, there are numerous options for you to do so. Here are some suggestions: 

Postgraduate degree

A master’s in public relations or a related field, such as corporate communications or marketing communication, can equip professionals with theoretical and practical knowledge in strategising, branding, reputation management and crisis communications, depending on your programme. 

Some programmes may also offer internship opportunities with top organisations, which can help you widen your network and prepare you for communication-related challenges that companies often face.


Graduate certificate

If you want more control to tailor your learning, a graduate certificate in PR might be an ideal option as it arms you with specialist knowledge.  

Depending on the programme, you may be able to choose from a wide range of units, such as in  PR, journalism, and digital media, to name a few.

Courses will vary, but typically, students will have the option to pursue the programme on a full-time or part-time basis, while some universities also offer online learning options. 

Upon completion, you can progress to a master’s degree in the same subject area.



Also known as digital badges, microcredentials aim to help you develop specific skills and/or competencies as required by the industry. 

While many employers continue to recognise the importance of a university degree, microcredentials can demonstrate to potential employers or current employers of a staff’s commitment to lifelong learning to stay relevant.

These short skill-based courses can be offered online or in person, and are accredited and often recognised by employers across the globe, and can be used to gain industry-relevant skills to enhance your PR career. 

Many universities offer undergraduate and graduate-level courses under their respective schools or faculties, so be sure to explore the offerings.

At the end of the day, the method you choose to upskill yourself can always serve as an asset for PR professionals across different industries.