Social media has changed the PR industry tremendously.
Back then, public relation managers emailed tons of press releases to journalists, clipped newspapers, made a lot of phone calls, and drank a lot of coffee.
Now, one wrong tweet from your client can cause their company to lose millions of dollars in shares in a few minutes.
Information travels at the speed of light nowadays and a piece of negative publicity can be shared half way across the world before your first cup o' joe. For this reason, PR managers now need more than just good phone skills to succeed at their jobs.
So what attributes should you be looking out for if you're looking to hire a PR rockstar for your company? In this blog post, we'll be talking about five qualities that are essential for a good PR manager in the digital age.
1. They're aware
A good PR manager is hyper-engaged and keeps their pulse on what's happening in the clients’ industries.
They also stay up to date about global current events and trends that can impact the industries they work within.
For this reason, you should look for someone who has experience using a social listening tool to monitor what's being said about their clients.
Because so much happens on social media every few minutes, content needs to be monitored in real-time. A good PR manager will be the first to know before a major brand crisis strikes because they would have a tool in place to notify them when there's a sudden surge of mentions of their brand online.
In a world where it takes literally seconds for disaster to spread, it pays to be the first to know and the first to react.
2. They're resourceful
Whether you're hiring for a PR person in-house or an agency, good research skills will be very important for the role.
According to the Guardian, "A PR person needs to be a good researcher in order to communicate accurately and authoritatively on a subject." They'll also need to be able to provide updated information to key stakeholders.
Take the Pepsi/ Kendall Jenner fiasco for example. The PR manager would have had to summarize the situation and report to Pepsi why their ad undermined the "Black Lives Matter" movement and why so many people were upset on social media. It's therefore very important that they know how to find information quickly.
Unfortunately, knowing how to find things quickly usually involves going through a lot of useless information. If the PR manager of Pepsi was using a monitoring tool to track what's being said online about Pepsi during the campaign, they may get a lot of unrelated tweets such as "Coke > Pepsi Forever". In order to only the content that is related to the campaign, they need to use a tool that can help them filter the conversations and cut through the noise.
No matter how good they are with people, a rockstar PR pro will have solid research and analytical skills above all.
3. They're quick & agile
A great PR manager must be able execute a campaign flawlessly but be able to change the strategy 180 degrees at the drop of a hat.
Being reactive and agile is one of the most important qualities that a PR professional can have in this day and age. Having this quality means that your PR manager is calm under pressure and can focus on the task at hand.
Some of us may remember when an employee of the Red Cross sent a rogue tweet about #gettingslizzard. When the organization discovered the wildly inappropriate tweet, they responded quickly and transparently so that not too much damage was done to the brand.
During a PR crisis, there are going to be a lot of people reaching out to your brand directly on social media, and even more having conversations about you with other people. Your PR manager needs to find everything being said, jump into conversations going off-track, and answer questions from your audience.
The saying "all publicity is good publicity"? Not in this day and age. You need to have a PR manager who is on the ball and ready to steer the ship in the other direction.
4. They're creative
Another attribute that goes hand in hand with being agile and solution-oriented is creativity.
"A career in PR will present you with countless opportunities to be creative, not only in terms of writing, but also in coming up with new ways to promote businesses and approaching new clients. PR is a profession which constantly calls for fresh ideas and lateral thinking, so having a creative streak can be a crucial skill to bring you to career success." The Guardian
Great PR pros be able to find creative solutions to problems, often while under a lot of time and media pressure.
Consider this example of Reese's when they released some unfortunate holiday candy that looked nothing like they were supposed to.
The photos of the misshaped chocolate went viral. People mocked the brand online incessantly and it almost turned out to be a full-blown PR crisis.
However, the brilliant PR team quickly came back with a clapback campaign: #AllTreesAreBeautiful campaign and talked about “tree shaming.” They were able to turn what could have been a big social media crisis into a smart, reactive PR campaign.
When it comes down to it, stellar PR managers will not only have excellent writing, research and communication skills but they will also be out-of-the-box thinkers.
Over to you
No one said being a public relations manager was an easy job. Having a successful career in PR requires more than a communications degree. To be amongst the top players, you need to be well rounded in many areas from research to campaign monitoring, and crisis management.
What other skills do you think a good PR professional needs? Let us know in the comments.
Need more help with managing your PR crises? Check out 5 awful brand crises we learned from.