Motivational speaker Tony Robbins says, “Repetition is the mother of skill.” This is true when you want to master any ability! And depending on the career you chose, some may be way more important than others.

Every occupation requires particular soft skills and hard skills. As a PR pro, hard skills are those that directly relate to your job, which you were educated in and in which your proficiency can be measured. It’s also much easier to define, and refers to things such as SEO, sales experience, marketing or even analytics.

Soft skills, on the other hand, cannot be measured and are acquired very differently than simply by taking a course on it. But when you have that ability, it can be used across industries and scenarios. A few examples of soft skills include team work, listening and conflict resolution.

So when it comes to public relations, which soft skills are the most important? Read on as media update’s Maryna Steyn lays it out!


Soft skill 1: Emotional intelligence

Having emotional intelligence, or EQ, is more than just having empathy and compassion. It also means being self-aware.

For a PR pro, this is important because you need to have a thick skin when dealing with criticism. You also need to be able to distinguish between ‘hate comments’ from constructive criticism. This is because this skill will help you grow into a better professional, knowing how to respond to each appropriately.

Empathy is also part of emotional intelligence. For the modern public relations officer, this is useful when dealing with a variety of situations. It will help you to understand your clients better by putting yourself in their shoes, or when it comes to communicating with the public.

Take, for instance, a press release that you need to write on behalf of your client. In the piece, you need to apologise for how customers were treated during a PR crisis, which was seen by the public as unprofessional. Your wording will need to convey that you understand how they have been impacted and that you are being sincere.

Furthermore, EQ means having the ability to be diplomatic and tactful. When it comes to negotiating with clients or reaching a compromise, a PR pro needs to be tactful and know how to maintain relationships when challenges arise.

Soft skill 2: Public speaking

You don’t need to be an extrovert to work in PR, but what you definitely need is the confidence to speak in public. It might not come easily to everyone but, through practice, anyone can master public speaking.

This soft skill is vital for public relations professionals because they often need to give presentations to clients, verbally communicate with large groups and need to know how to address an audience at gatherings or seminars.

What is more, a PR pro needs to know when to speak informatively, persuasively, ceremoniously or demonstratively as each of these forms are very distinct ways of communicating.

Since PR is all about relationships, effective communication — and doing so with confidence and clarity — forms the basis of what public relations is.

Soft skill 3: Adaptability

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, every brand, business owner or employee learnt how important it is to be adaptable — and so did everyone working in PR!

Being adaptable means being able to respond to rapid changes or conditions. For public relations professionals, this means both changes in their working environment and the projects they work on. They also have to respond at a moment’s notice to crises or unexpected developments. This is important because a quick response helps to keep a brand’s image intact.

On top of being adaptable to changes in project scopes, PR pros need to be agile. By now, this term is old news, but it does still highlight the importance of having a nimble mindset that is open to new information.

They also need to approach project management with the goal to communicate effectively and have an extensive documented workflow. After the different phases of a project, the PR pro needs to also be able to deliver tangible results to the client. Simple, right?

Since PR is all about relationships, effective communication — and doing so with confidence and clarity — forms the basis of what public relations is.

Soft skill 4: Time management

What is time management really? Well, it’s much more than just having a schedule that you stick to. It’s actually the abilities of self-motivation, planning, prioritising, decision making, goal setting and focus coming together to ensure you use your time productively.

See, it's much more than just ‘time management.’

Public relations professionals often have multiple projects they need to juggle at once, all in different stages of the project life cycle. That’s why they need to be able to prioritise what needs attention first, while also planning to meet all deadlines and deliverables of the other projects as well.

Without knowing how to set goals, being self-motivated and focused when you need to, learning the skill of time management would not be possible.

Soft skill 5: Creative and critical thinking

As this soft skill implies, PR pros need to have both creative and critical thinking skills.

Creativity is hard to define, but it relates to imaginative, abstract thought that’s grounded in inspiration and ideating. PR practitioners draw on creativity when working on press kits or when they need to create something tangible like a press release or video script for promos.

Critical thinking, on the other hand, is analytical in nature and draws heavily on memory, logic and intelligence. Anyone working in public relations uses all the knowledge they have stored to inform their decisions and know what the best choices are for their client’s brand.

By using both these skills side by side, PR pros are able to problem-solve and refine ideas.

What skills have you found to be invaluable in your career as a PR pro? Let us know in the comments below.

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We learn and improve our skills daily — especially when working in public relations. Why not find out more with these Three skills PR pros have learned from the pandemic.
*Image courtesy of Pixabay