The PR professional today has to be a cross channel media expert, a digital expert, a social media maven, compete with advertisers for marketing money, know public affairs, crisis communication and understand the business they are advocating. A lot of this being done by young people in their twenties. What kind of pressure does this put of PR professionals, what skills are they struggling to learn-what demands are there on them? PRmoment India finds out.
Jack of all trades, master of stress?
Corporate communications manager, Harshita Nair from Bengaluru admits that, “The demand for being an expert on everything related to communications is increasing by the minute and that sometimes becomes overwhelming”
Nair says that while this is more rampant in smaller firms, even in larger organizations, the need for specialists is based on the amount of work involved.
Adds Nair, “Many a times the PR person is also the digital media person, and the content marketing person and it goes on. Organizations that consider branding, image building and reputation management important; have a FB, Twitter and Linked In account at the bare minimum.”
Neha Bahl, associate manager, brand communications agrees that, “Clients expect their PR or corp communications person to be well informed and aware of all the modes of marketing be it PR, social, digital, content or strategy. This can make a professional feels pressurized as a single person finds it difficult to give time to every section respectively.”
However, Vipin Chandra, account executive has a different take on the challenges a PR pro faces today. He says, “If a PR professional wants to be at the top of his game, he must be a jack of all trades. It is not about pressure. It is only about staying relevant in ever evolving PR industry.”
Must have PR skills
Inspite of lack of time and a lack of structured training programmes, PR pros are certainly aware of the skill gap and what they need to pick up.
Nair says that her wake –up call about social media came when A journalist she was pursuing for weeks for a business story, finally picked up a story from a social media thread which in her words, “ I wouldn’t have considered worthy enough for pitching at all – but I realized that that is what is driving communication/PR today. Consumerism and the buzz factor. “
This experience made Nair realise that, as she puts it, “Information is free flowing, and more often opinions not facts are driving stories – journalists themselves lean more on social media to find their stories. Consumer focus in business stories has become much more rampant than earlier.“
Namita Sharma, senior account executive at Adfactors PR, would like the chance to “include crisis management deeply as a skill in my career”.
Chandra feels one PR skill that he would want to acquire is, “Undoubtedly public affairs”, apart from digital and social media skills.
Richa Seth, senior account manager at Adfactors PR, took a call to study digital marketing formally after a client review. She explains that, “Very recently, we had a review meeting with one of my clients in the education space, the performance in the last month was good with coverage in some of the leading mainline, financial and regional newspapers. The client also mentioned that a lot of the corporate partners and stakeholders had appreciated the coverage. However, he said that we were not reaching out to the student’s community and the public as much as we could and maybe we could explore social media as a platform to share our messages. This is when; I decided that I will formally get trained in digital marketing so that when required I am able to craft campaign ideas, execute and evaluate/measure the success as well.“
Bahl too puts digital marketing on her list of skills to learn; specifically she would like to pick up marketing in Twitter.