I was recently asked to provide some commentary for the employment section of The West Australian Newspaper, by a good friend and journalist, Maureen Eppen.
Maureen was keen to find out how Public Relations had changed over the last few years and in summary, my answer to her was – ENORMOUSLY!
The digital landscape has certainly transformed our role.
The news cycle is much faster and the rise of influencers – bloggers, ‘instagrammers’, ‘youtubers’ – has seen a change in how we can tell our client’s stories.
The social media space has also grown and provided more opportunity for great communication too – both in terms of listening and storytelling.
I did tell Maureen that I am, however, a firm believer that many of the fundamentals stay the same in good communication. Know your audience and communicate with them in a way and through a means that is meaningful to them.
Maureen asked me, how I think PR will change in the next 5- 10 years? I think the basics of PR will remained unchanged – in that we are the facilitators of great relationships between our clients and their stakeholders and that will always be. We are the guardians of a great story and great content and I don’t think that will shift.
However, the mediums through which we do that will continue to change.
The traditional media landscape is changing quickly at the moment, with more emphasis on content that can be shared on social media – so continuing to adapt the way of doing things will be important (for example, less media releases and more video content for online).
Maureen also asked me who my advice was for someone considering a career in PR. What attributes should the have?
Confidence – you need to be confident pitching story ideas, but also in providing good advice to clients.
Empathy – PR continues to be about relationships. Understanding the audiences of your client, what their needs are and how you can communicate with them in an effective way is essential.
Organisation – being a PR consultant you will have to juggle many clients and competing priorities.
Great writing skills – so much of what we do requires good writing / distilling messages.
And finally, what advice would I give undergraduates thinking about a PR career?
Gain some work experience – it could be an internship or it could be some volunteer work for a charity you would like to get involved in. It is so great to put your learned skills to the practical test and see what working in PR is really like. It also helps build your portfolio when you come to apply for positions.
Consume media – newspapers, broadcast media, online media – keep abreast of them all. Follow trends and keep up to date in the social media space.
Get a mentor – I am involved in a mentoring programme with a WA university and I love being part of it. Find someone who works in the industry you are keen on pursuing and meet with them regularly to talk through your plans / bounce ideas off and get an insight into what a career in PR might look like for you.
Find a role you love. The word passionate is so overused, but PR is an often long hours, full on, fast paced career, so I find an employer / industry / client that you can enjoy working with and truly get passionate about. I love what I do and the clients I work for!