Identifying the skills required for PR today

Senior PR professionals need to get up to speed when it comes to pitching, financial planning and project management. These are just three of the skills gaps identified in this year’s State of the Profession research from the CIPR. Koray Camgoz, public relations manager at CIPR, lists the skills in demand by PR recruiters and the skills that PROs believe they have:

  • Junior skills. For junior candidates softer skills such as interpersonal skills, attention to detail and creativity are in demand. It’s also interesting to note that ‘written communication – digital/social’ is the fourth most demanded skill by recruiters seeking junior professionals, yet fails to make the top 10 most demanded skills for senior practitioners.
  • Senior skills. Alongside leadership, interpersonal and strategic management skills, areas such as pitching, project management and budgeting/financial planning are all sought after by those looking for senior staff. Interestingly, the latter three are almost entirely absent from the list of senior practitioners’ strongest perceived competencies.
  • Reliance on soft skills. PR professionals have always been more confident with soft skills and this year’s findings reinforce that perception. The top three strongest perceived competencies of all practitioners are written communication (35%), interpersonal skills (31%) and attention to detail (27%). Whilst these soft skills are indeed essential to PR practice, if public relations is to continue on its path towards professionalisation, practitioners will need to expand their skillset to incorporate financial, business and leadership competencies. Consistent with last year, PR practitioners are least confident in technical tasks such as HTML and coding (69%) and search engine optimisation (48%).
  • Men versus women. This year’s study suggests women are more than twice as likely as men to rank organisational skills as their strongest asset, whilst men in PR are twice as likely as women to rank identifying current affairs and industry trends as their strongest skill. Conversely, men appear to be far more confident in their leadership and management skills than women, but interpersonal skills are perceived to be strongest amongst a third more women than men.

Despite apparent skill gaps in pitching and financial planning, PROs do possess a wide range of skills, which befits a profession that is so demanding of different talents. As well as practice, confidence takes you a long way in any field, so it is important that women appreciate their leadership skills more, whilst men could do with brushing up their people skills.

Further information

Delivered in partnership with Survation, the seventh edition of the CIPR’s State of the Profession report reflects the views of more than 1,500 practitioners who shared their thoughts on every aspect of public relations. Click to view the full report