Why yesterday’s PR skills don’t hack it in an Inbound PR world
By Mike Davies
To work in PR, you need to be able to write the occasional interesting story, make some decent journalist contacts, handle your drink during some midweek boozy lunches and be able to blag the benefits of advertising value equivalent.
If that sounds a bit like Absolutely Fabulous it’s probably because that description of what PR professionals do belongs within fiction rather than reality.
But even within the real world, the skills needed to work in PR have evolved rapidly and now extend way beyond communication and writing.
PR today requires a much broader understanding of where Earned media falls within a business’ wider marketing and commercial objectives and how it can integrate with every aspect of the Owned, Paid and Shared activity within an Inbound campaign.
It is no longer enough to rely on coverage books to demonstrate success. PR professionals now need a much broader knowledge of marketing principles like lead generation and funnel metrics and understanding how to convert an audience into leads, prospects and customers.
One of the biggest changes that has impacted the skills to work in PR today is the need to understand digital platforms and tools to get messages across and manage a company’s online presence.
To demonstrate the importance of understanding how to develop or protect reputations online and through digital tools the most recent PRCA Digital PR and Communications report found that 51% of clients expect agencies to be able manage online reputation.
But by far the biggest challenge to the skillset of modern PR is the need to understand analytics tools to deliver the kind of data-driven results that boardrooms now expect.
Developing the tech skills for Inbound PR
At the very least a modern PR practitioner should feel comfortable moving around a Google Analytics dashboard to understand web traffic increases and sources of traffic – particularly when it comes to traffic from links earned through PR activity.
An understanding of the importance of keywords and working knowledge of SEO best practice is also extremely beneficial to PR professionals today as it can help them understand the how their work is impacting website performance.
And today, as PR moves more towards Inbound and Paid media plays a more important role, an understanding of Ads can prove useful to today’s PR pros.
What is clear is that the barriers between PR, marketing and SEO have been well and truly torn down in the modern media era and simply having a knowledge of one aspect of Earned, Owned, Paid and Shared just won’t hack it anymore in a world of Inbound PR.
To survive today, PRs must retain their more traditional story-telling and relationship building skills but must also become ever more comfortable with new technology if they are to prove their worth in the boardroom.