Top skills PR professionals need for the future of work
In the poetic words of Bob Dylan — the times they are a-changing. Today, a significant chunk of communication entails using plenty of technologies and tools, shaping and changing the way PR professionals work. While technology will affect communication-related roles, strategic functions — an important role in PR — will grow in importance, according to a recent report.
International Communications Consultancy Organisation’s (ICCO) 2020 World PR Report found that PR professionals remain optimistic about the growth of their sector. The organisation’s chief executive Francis Ingham notes: “CEOs continue to invest in corporate reputation, embracing the fact that their most valuable asset is their reputation.”
With the field secure, what are some of the skills that would make PR professionals highly in demand in the future of work?
Two skills have chiefly stood out in the report: “research, insight and planning” as well as “data, measurement and analytics”.
International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) chairman Richard Bagnall notes that both of these categories are closely related. Bagnall adds that “meaningful evaluation is impossible in the absence of clear and concise planning linking SMART objectives to clearly defined targets and KPIs.”
Some of the expected areas of growth over the next five years include strategic consulting, corporate reputation, multimedia content creation, marketing communications, social media and community management as well as influencer marketing.
Upskilling options for PR professionals
ICCO’s report provides PR professionals with important insights into areas worth upskilling in now and in the future. Many companies are currently beleaguered amid the throes of COVID-19, which makes it essential for individuals to take the initiative to upskill on their own.
While an undergraduate degree is the typical entry-level qualification to get into PR, staying relevant entails lifelong learning. There are many microcredentials and master’s or postgraduate certificates or diploma programmes that can help execs upskill in specific areas.
Here are some areas worth exploring:
PR value is often measured via AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent), or “the cost of buying the space taken up by a particular article, had the article been an advertisement,” said PRWeek. However, this is seen as an archaic by some PR practitioners.
Analytics is seen as an answer to address PR’s measurement challenge in understanding the effectiveness of tier campaigns and activities across all media channels. There are tools that can help practitioners understand and communicate data collected.
Platforms such as edX and Coursera offer courses in data or business analytics that can help you transform data into actionable insights for better business decisions.
Multimedia content creation
Multimedia storytelling is becoming increasingly important in PR who are jostling to promote their brand and communicate a message to target audiences.
Technology currently offers a plethora of options for PR experts to get creative in — be it podcasts, videos to images for social media.
In a similar vein, PR professionals have many options to upskill in this arena, be it via platforms like Udemy to specialist diplomas in digital content creation offered by universities.
Like it or not, Marketing and PR are merging. Social media, influencer marketing and marketing communications are some important skills for PR practitioners to upskill in, notes the ICCO.
There are many options for upskilling in marketing. Many universities offer marketing-related courses, be it graduate certificates to postgraduate diplomas that can be completed in one year or less.
Auckland University of Technology, for instance, offers a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing in which students will learn about strategic marketing; digital, social and mobile marketing; and marketing management, to name a few.
If you’re looking for shorter courses, the Digital Marketing Institute offers professional certifications in social media marketing and digital strategy and planning specialist, to name a few.
Ultimately, the changing face of PR means those who fail to learn risk falling behind, making it imperative for PR professionals to devote themselves to lifelong learning or risk becoming defunct.