Attributes for becoming a legendary Public Relations professional

Having been around the PR, Corporate Communications business for a while, I believe I have a good understanding of the personal characteristics that are commonly found in a successful PR professional. Here are some traits that will help a PR professional stand out and shine bright:

Have a business-like thinking

What’s the end goal? That’s what PR people need to consider, more often than they typically do. The PR activities one executes daily establish a company – put it on the desired map – or contribute to a larger initiative designed to help it do more business. While vague, that’s appropriately described. Before acting, a PR person needs to determine – how does the desired result contribute to the bigger picture of business success?

Be flexible and nimble

I can’t think of a business/career/gig that requires as much flexibility as public relations and social media outreach. Plans, particularly those of clients, change with unexpected regularity. The successful PR professional needs to adapt and, throughout any transition, help clients achieve communications and business success no matter the programmatic direction. Social media channels present the very obvious need to be nimble – one social media post can change the tone of a day or days to come. In addition to being reactive and responsive, PR practitioners need to have the ability to professionally deal with whatever comes their way in their own way and wriggle out of the situation.

Write, write and write

To be great at PR, one needs to have decent/good/better writing skills. While content development has taken on a more expansive meaning off late, the foundation of the gig is still in keystrokes. Verbal articulation, creative thinking, and a positive personality are all obviously critical characteristics for any profession, but in PR better-than-basic writing skills are imperative, with colleagues and clients demanding everything from compelling blog posts to finely crafted press releases and everything in between.

Be adaptive, early in your career

Becoming a well-informed, consistently reliable and savvy PR person takes work. The ramp-up to achieving such a lofty standard varies greatly depending on the individual, but no entry-level professional punches into a new job and immediately begins counselling the world’s biggest brands on the highest-profile communications issues. Most newcomers make an impact – but there’s a difference between that impact and other more senior decision-making. There’s so much to learn in PR on a daily basis, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve aimed being a PR guy since I first joined a publishing business. And, there are plenty of dynamic and entrepreneur bosses and colleagues to learn from – another reason I’ve loved my career. The best young professionals “get” that experience from closely watching co-workers, carefully noting their accomplishments, and learning from their challenges.

Continue learning, throughout your career 

As the expression goes, learning is continuous process, and that’s so true when it comes to the ever-evolving PR field. There’s so much to gain in every interaction with a colleague or a client, and in every first-hand experience – from a methodical, well-laid out plan to a crisis situation. The best PR practitioners know to embrace all that is happening around them and best leverage that data to improve as professionals.

Watch and care about news

No matter the market, category, or industry any PR person works within, they need to care about what is happening, both in their core sector and in the broader world. They need to be on top of news and trends, so that they can leverage what they know to craft story ideas that best position their client, topic, etc. within the most timely, topical conversations in the media and on the streets.

Be a hard nut to crack

PR people get shot-down often. It’s a common occurrence, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Amid great editorial success, we get shot-down pitching more than our fair share of story ideas, by-lined articles, and profile pieces. While we enjoy much strategic and tactical success when working with clients, we also get shot down presenting ideas for new programs or programmatic approaches. It’s part of the business – and you need to roll with the circumstance. Critique and criticism are common, and solid PR pros learn from their misfires and grow stronger from those experiences.

Adopt media

Don’t merely invest on media networking but start adopting media. Bring a trust amongst the media fraternity that you give invaluable and genuine inputs for their standout stories. In the process also, after gauging the journalist, build them as brands in the category they specialise in and give them local, national and international exposure. Finally who doesn’t need recognition?

Think before the client thinks

This is an important quality of a PR professional. Think before the client thinks which makes one stand out as a PR professional because pre-empting is the best quality what a client appreciates. When you do this the client will never look out for another consultancy. This also builds you as the one who is ready to take up crisis with ease, when it hits you. How one manages and overcomes a crisis situation not only displays your PR skills but also strengthens the relationship with the client.

The views expressed here are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Reputation Today.

Raghavendra Rao
Partner and CEO at Bernay IMC
Raghavendra has spent over 30 years in media, leading PR firms and large teams at corporates.

He flagged off his career from Mumbai with the association at Magna Publishing in Mumbai and New Delhi and went on to join India Today before he ventured into Public Relations with his long stint at Sampark PR heading their South operations.

In 2008, he ventured into mining and steel and was heading the corporate communications at JSW Bellary plant till the end of the Financial Year 2015. He has worked with some of the best brands in India like Arvind Brands, SOS Children Villages, HDFC Bank, ICICI Insurance, Bajaj Auto, JSW Steel and has also been associated with global brands like BOA, VFC, Mercedes Benz, Infopro Solutions and many more.

A Trusted adviser to corporate leaders and CXOs, mentor and coach to high-performing teams, Raghavendra is also a visiting faculty at premier communication institutes.

2 Comments on "Attributes for becoming a legendary Public Relations professional"

  1. Very succinctly put together, useful definitely, lot of experience visible there, thanks

  2. Many thanks Suresh !!!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.