With the growth in online and social communications as a fundamental part of communications plans and strategies, its no wonder that with this new medium comes a whole new set of skills practitioners must master.
In the first #PRHangout last week, Andrés López-Varela of Weber Shandwick Sydney, spoke of the expanded skillset required by today’s PR practitioners to effectively recommend and deliver digital communications strategies. We’re all being told “big data” is going to deliver us the insights and stories we need to better understand audience and customer behaviours and activities. Terms like EDM (electronic direct message), CRM (customer relationship management) systems and HTML (hypertext markup language – the web!) were mentioned as as some of the new 2.0 terms professionals need to understand and be able to use or recommend for their clients and companies.
For a generation of communicators who’s skills and value have been placed on understanding media, pitching a story and having a killer black book of contacts, how does this new world order change the skillset or knowledge required for professional communications?
According to Sarah Skerik of PR Newswire, there are three core “types” of professional skill groupings in this new digital age:
- The traditionalist, who values the ability to write, build relationships, isolate and convey key messages and build publicity strategy above all else.
- The digital enthusiast, who values social media acuity, digital content production and editing and coding skills highly.
- The quant, which focuses on data, analytics and how PR integrates with business processes.
The argument I’ve always made about digital PR is that fundamentally, at its core we’re still talking about having the capability to understand and brand or organisation, know what will makes its story compelling and knowing how to deliver or convey that story to the right target audiences to influence behaviour. Whilst technology and the web have presented a new set of tools for us to understand and utilise to distribute or broadcast our message, the fundamentals of storytelling and communications strategy are very similar. Just with a new context 😉
Does this make me a traditionalist? I tweet, I blog, I’m connected via a range of social media networks and have simple coding skills. Can I navigate and calculate social comms strategy ROI or delve into a hefty dataset to gain the insights needed to guide the direction of a strategy? Can I edit video or create a conversation or content strategy, with supporting social platform recommendations? I feel confident in a number of these areas, but in others I feel I’m continuing to grow and develop. This is what makes today such an exciting time to work in professional communications.
Where do you sit on the spectrum of the evolution of public relations? Prehistoric or progressive?