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In class on Monday we discussed the tools necessary for PR in upcoming years. Though each student individually came up with a unique set of three skills, there was a general consensus on the most important ones. While mine in particular wasn’t necessarily the perfect set, I feel as though they could be expounded upon to further embody the overall lesson from the course. For the in-class exercise, my skills were as follows:

1. Writing. Probably because of my undergraduate studies in writing, this was the first thing that came to mind. Effective writing is essential to not only good PR, but also good communication. One of the most important kernels of knowledge I gleaned from undergrad was to have an understanding of the audience to whom I am speaking. The PR class has only strengthened that idea. No matter how formal or informal,  rapport will only be built when both parties have an understanding and ability to communicate on the same level.

2.Research. This one slightly overlaps with my “creativity” point, but I’ll discuss that later. Having an ability to seek out and study a client, an idea, or the field of PR will allow any communications expert to be one step ahead of the competition. Research can be as simple as using Google or other content aggregators to have a basis from which to work. Where this goes hand-in-hand with “creativity” is with a knowledge of the digital landscape.

3. “Creativity.” I put quotes around this one because I wouldn’t consider it to be creativity in the typical sense. What I think I meant to say was “thinking outside the box.” Beyond being a cliché phrase, it might be impossible to realistically practice this skill. But if a PR guru wants to be successful, they have to have some foresight for their client or business. And with the amount of RSS feeds and similar sharing through social networks, knowing the basics of the field or a general direction to go should increasingly become easier and easier. Then again, because of the increasing ease of learning about online tools or other PR nuggets, being the first to know what the next big avenue for b2c/b2b communication is could be challenging.

So like I said, I believe my points were decent, but after hearing about Arik Hanson’s post as well as the class’s thoughts on the issue, I’d like to amend my points to cover more ground:

1* Communication. Writing is just one aspect of the broader spectrum that is effective communication. Both Mr. Hanson’s post and the class agreed that being an effective communicator is one of the very basics of the PR skill set; it’s also a skill that will always be needed for PR. Effective communication can entail, but is not limited to: interpersonal, face-to face communication, storytelling, presenting, building relationships, strategic planning and a reliance on the other skill sets.

2* Knowledge/Understanding. Beyond just simply googling a company or even doing deeper research, a PR expert needs to be able to see the big picture. To me that means understanding the context of the business and the situation, and being able to make a move from there. It’s a combination of research skills, general knowledge, having the “creativity” from above and piecing all these aspects together.

3* Diligence. The number of people who are the first to do just about anything is pretty small. So it’s not always about being 100% ahead of the competition, because quite frankly that is impossible to do all the time. It’s important to be on the ball and learn from observing. I find that I personally have a hard time creating completely original ideas on my own; hearing others’ viewpoints and ideas allows me to organize my direction and venture out in a new way. Diligence means consistently understanding the world of communication and shaping the way that it evolves through the things you have learned.

Arik Hanson gives students of PR some very practical tips for building that knowledge and becoming an expert in the field. Having discussion, like we did in class, is probably the best way to grow as an individual and a professional. Hearing the viewpoints of others, especially those who have worked in communication for a long time, has helped me learned exactly which direction I need to take to succeed in PR. What things do you think are important to being a successful communicator (in PR or otherwise)? Is there any point you disagree on or big thing I missed?

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