Essential PR skills you need over 40!

PR professionals in their 40s are in a unique position. Young enough to understand digital and old enough to have also gone through the rigours of an analogue PR world. This, while giving them a solid PR foundation does make them particularly vulnerable to being left behind in the digital learning curve. Unless, they are able to up-skill their digital and data skills, leading PR teams may be a challenge.

Deepshikha Dharmaraj, chief business growth officer, Genesis Burson-Marsteller, has some tough advice for the over 40 PR professional. She says, “In the case of digital, you have to shun your ego and surrender to reverse mentoring. The millennials and Gen Z know what they are talking about when it comes to digital. Learning from them doesn’t just help you up your game, it also gives them a chance to grow and mature.”

Deepshikha Dharamraj, Genesis Burson Marsteller, says, “Given that the 40-plus are not people who were born as digital natives, that is one area where they need to constantly update their skills.”

Dharamraj says that " The good news is that they already have gravitas and maturity on their side to develop an impactful strategy. Combine that with digital savviness, and you have the ingredients of a successful campaign."

While digital savvy is obviously not the exclusive domain of someone who dons a hoodie, privately many Pr professionals admit that digital skills for the over 40 set are a challenge.

What to learn in digital?

So, what is it that PR professionals actually need to pick up? Senior PR professional, Charu Raizada says, “Learn to code and decode, get a sound understanding of creating new age content for the screenagers, who consume news, views on their mobile. Fall in love with data - analytics is no more a buzzword but a ‘Must’. Use analytics software and reasoning to drive your decisions.”

Given that the 40-plus are not people who were born as digital natives, that is one area where they need to constantly update their skills, says GBM's Deepshikha Dharamraj

Anupriya Deepak, corporate communications and PR professional says that although PR pros above 40 are masters of content and communication, however, to be able to better guide the team they need to be aware of skills such as SEO and data analytics.

Deepak, also says its’ time for automation tools for PR processes, “There are multiple software and tools that help to deliver email communication to journalists whether on a desktop or on mobile through interactive interfaces. Also, such tools offer dashboards with insights on how an individual and team level the PR pitch is performing. This also means more value coming from the individual team members time and better closures.”

Anupriya Deepak, corporate communications pro, says,” The only way to keep a track is to be out there and sample a few tools and consider deploying them eventually. I would recommend Prowly to begin with.”


Beyond digital: Inclusion and Flexibility key PR skills

 Bishnupriya Narayan, group account head, Perfect Relations says apart from digital, flexibility and a global mindset are must have skills.

Says Narayan, “The millennials have inherited the earth! And with them, they have brought a wave of change that has redefined organisational constructs as we have known it. Hierarchical structures have been replaced with collaborative and flat working relationships, where the premium is now on mutual learning and diversity – not just of demographics but rather diversity of experiences. Age, place of birth, the location of work and in many cases, years of experience are not considered the only factors of success for communicators.”

Bishnupriya Narayan, Perfect Relations, recommends, "Engagement with as many diverse people, from as many cultures, countries and situations. Listening to the youngest crew on board with as much intent as they do the silver haired."

Aradhana Prabhu, a senior PR professional with an IT company, agrees and recommends, “Exchanging notes with your peers on how they are accessing new forms of PR across different markets globally.”

Be a spokesperson for PR

As far as soft skills are concerned Radha Radhakrishnan, senior communications professionals, says PR pros over 40 must mentor their younger team members and also become spokespersons for PR.

She puts it bluntly, “They need to be better advocates of PR Industry. They need to talk more about the positives of being a PR Pro.”

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