What does tomorrow’s PR pro look like?

Yesterday, I presented to 20 or so members of the University of St. Thomas PRSSA chapter. The topic? Tomorrow’s PR pro and the skills that generation will need to succeed. It’s a topic I’ve blogged about before.

I also used a new presentation tool: Prezi (which I posted about yesterday). I’m embedding the presentation below for your viewing pleasure. Keep in mind, I kept it fairly basic and you can’t tell the whole story from the Prezi (that’s very purposeful), so let me summarize the key points:

* Hone your traditional PR skills: storytelling, media relations, time management and communication skills. These are skills you’ll need no matter where you work and what you do in this industry.

* Work on developing the “evolving” skills of tomorrow’s PR pro. In my view, these include search skills, digital strategy, ability to “speak geek” and an understanding of how to effectively communicate with mobile customers and stakeholders.

* Of course, there are a number of time-tested PR skills that aren’t going anywhere. Not now. Not ever. Among them: Strategic planning, writing skills, creativity/ability to brainstorm the “big idea”, and leadership skills.

* How do you develop the “evolving” skills? Work on your social media MBA. Today. For free. My professors: Amber Naslund, Todd Defren, Dave Fleet, Jason Falls, Adam Singer, Sarah Evans, Shel Holtz and Jay Baer. Not remotely possible to list everyone who has influenced me over the last few years, but that’s a good start. And, I encouraged the students I spoke with to do the same.

* What advice did I give the students? I left them with 5 tips in 5 words:

– Read. Not only blogs, but news sites, industry publications, non-fiction and newspapers. Reading not only makes you smarter, it makes you a better writer.

– Ask. One of the lessons I’ve learned from attending industry events: Always ask at least one question. It transforms you from a passive attendee to an active participant. Which leads me to…

– Curiousity. I don’t know too many PR pros who aren’t curious. Not sure how you practice or learn this one–usually more of an innate quality. But, I wanted to convey how important it is to have an insatiable curiousity as a means to learning and expanding your world.

– Relationship. Everything we’re talking about here comes back to relationships. Business, projects, speaking opportunities, friends, learning opportunities and just about everything else positive that happens in your professional life can typically be traced back to personal relationships. Work hard to cultivate and develop these relationships and you will reap the rewards down the line. Such a key skill and concept for younger PR pros.

– Indispensable. Getting that first job is just the beginning. Once you walk in that front door, do everything in your power to be indispensable to your employer. Develop new skill sets. Go above and beyond. Volunteer for new projects. Whatever the case, if you can make yourself indispenable, you will never struggle for a job.

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16 comments on “What does tomorrow’s PR pro look like?

  1. Don says:

    Good points, though I would have placed greater emphasis on writing. Everything we do in our industry connects to this skill. If you want to work in PR and can’t write well, then you’re going to struggle.

  2. Kristin says:

    Great post!

    I am scheduled to speak to the same PRSSA students next month and this was totally my line of thought as well…though I’m sure you did a much better job!

    Hmmm. What to present, what to present 🙂

  3. arikhanson says:

    Don: You’re right, I did undersell writing skills a bit. They are absolutely critical to all we do online–and off.

    Kristin: I think there’s more than one approach to this. If you’re looking for a different topic, how about the 21st century job search? How to get the most out of your first job? What to look for in a first employer? I could keep going… 😉


  4. Excellent advice Arik! The only thing I would add is to take some business courses and understand how strategic PR relates to specific business outcomes and objectives. Be prepared and understand the value of metrics.

  5. I would also emphasis writing. And add Remember. Always important to remember and acknowledge those that helped you along the way. Handwritten thank you notes go along way with those in your network, potential employers and others that have helped you in your professional endeavors.

  6. What a lucky group of students to get to pick your brain about what PR pros are looking for out of the next generation. A lot of the advice you shared revolves around people. And I think that’s really what it all comes down to.

    Read to see other peoples’ perspectives. Ask questions because there’s no better way to start a relationship. Show curiosity about how people consume and share information and how we as PR Pros can better connect with them.

    Relationships are all about people. And your take is right on: “Just about everything else positive that happens in your professional life can typically be traced back to personal relationships.” Lastly, be indispensable by understanding what the people you work with and for need out of you to make the relationship as beneficial as possible for all involved.

    Just a different way of looking at the awesome information you provided. Love how you provided it in Prezi btw. And very smart note about strategic planning — thinking less tactical and more big picture, how can we have the most positive impact on people (usually our customers) is a learned skill.


  7. Adam Singer says:

    Hey thanks for the plug Arik – you rock 🙂

  8. Great advice Arik! I just served on a panel at St. Louis PRSA’s Pro-Am Day and wrote a post about advice provided by young PR pros themselves. It appeared on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas yesterday at http://www.budurl.com/57xa for anyone who’d like to read it. 🙂

  9. mollyvpr says:

    I would love to see a copy of your presentation! I have young PR folks ask these questions all the time. This would be a fun piece to send them!

  10. John Nemo says:

    I think you end with the most important lesson of all – make yourself indispensable. And multimedia storytelling is a must-have skill now for PR pros. Social media savvy too, and a mix of understanding the traditional PR game too. That’s why old PR dogs willing to learn new tricks like making compelling videos and mastering Social Media have a HUGE advantage and opportunity right now in PR.

    And props to UST (my alma matter) for bringing in a great PR pro to speak to students.

  11. Ann Arbor says:

    I was nervous about what you were indicating with the future PR pro…and then I watched your presentation. Very good stuff. I thought you were going to leave out the digital evolution taking place, but you had some very nice points on prezi. (What a cool product by the way).