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Essential Skills for PR Pros in 2011

What are the essential social media skills communication, marketing and PR professionals need in 2011?

That was a question posed on Quora – and here’s a shot at an answer.

I believe there are three fundamentals:

1) Good writing.

Writing is the foundation from which all else flows. It’s a critical form of communication that supports virtually every aspect of a business. No matter how the web develops, good writing skills will almost certainly always be essential.

2) Customer service.

Everyone in the organization wears a customer service hat these days, but this is especially true when PR is managing social media for a brand. Good customer service is good marketing.

3) SEO.

Beyond keywords and backlinks, SEO will provide PR with a foundational understanding of how the internet works. Most sites get a preponderance of traffic from organic search, and so this is a critical element to building an audience.

Some additional answers you’ll find in response to that question include:

a) Protecting the reputation. 

“Taking reputation building and protection online very seriously.”

Jon Clements

b) Stay on top of trends. 

“I’d also throw in that it’s still important to be an avid reader/watcher of the news and staying on top of trends in the media. You can’t help create relevant stories if you aren’t paying attention to what’s going on.”

Carrie Peters

c) How social media works.

“I think the most essential skill is to have an understanding of how social media tools can be used to achieve communication/PR/marketing and overall business goals. Other skills should include an understanding of how to truly engage and attract target audiences to achieve those goals and how to measure results.”

Farida Harianawala

* * *

What skills would you add?

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Image credit: Photo by Ben Wiens on Unsplash

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3 Responses

  1. Krista

    Hi Frank – I've been hearing a lot about Quora this week, and judging by your post, it looks like I need to check it out finally. This is a great list and discussion, as the new year is still fresh for most of us communicators.

    I might add that another important skill or mindset for the new year should include the incorporation or integration with internal communications with external strategies. Companies need to be communicating in the same tone and set the same example internally just as they do externally. That way, the message is stronger and gains more support from all stakeholders.

  2. Farida Harianawala

    I'm still trying to figure out Quora but at first glance, it seems to be a good platform to learn from others and discuss and exchange ideas. I agree with your key points – good writing, especially writing for the Web that combines SEO tactics, is essential for PR/marketing professionals. And since all employees, especially those into customer service, represent the company, it means everyone should have a basic understanding of PR/marketing and reputation management. Thanks for including my answer in your blog post!

  3. Frank Strong, MA, MBA

    @Krista: Indeed, Quora has just took off this week. The first post I looked at introduced me to this tool which is very cool and I'd never seen before. Then I had a couple of good conversations and was hooked.

    The integrated mindset is an interesting way to look at it. I like it. There's certainly a skill to thinking about tying in the other elements. Great point!

    @Farida Quora definitely takes a bit. There are a lot of nuances — subtle ones — that really help facilitate the conversation.

    As for skills, I would certainly agree. Everyone should wear a PR hat too. That's the thing about social media: sales are doing marketing work; marketers are doing sales work; support is doing a little of both and everyone wears a service hat. The lines have blurred!

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