8 Public Relations Characteristics all Comms Pros Need to Be Successful

Jul 18, 2022

Becoming an entrepreneur is exciting, and even more so when you’re becoming a PR pro! But whether you’re starting your agency owner journey or making the jump to this field, the transition can be a little scary. But I’ve been there, too! And after 17+ years in PR, I’ve figured out the key public relations characteristics you need to succeed. 

8 Public Relations Characteristics All PR Pros Need 

There are a ton of skills that PR pros need to constantly work on, like pitch-writing, media communications, and client acquisition. But to truly be successful in this industry, you need to dig deeper into who a PR pro is: what is it that makes them thrive and helps them deliver the best service to their clients? 

Here are 8 crucial public relations characteristics all PR pros can work on to grow as agency owners.

#1: Responsive 

Taking forever to respond to emails is not the way to impress. It makes you look unprofessional and can even cost you valuable media relationships…and potential features. 

Being responsive in every way is an essential public relations characteristic. You need to cover all your bases here: you should be prompt when communicating with current or potential clients, responding to media contacts, and answering inquiries on your website or social media profiles. 

#2: Flexible

One thing you need to know as you start your PR pro journey? The media and PR landscape is always changing. Being flexible and willing to adapt your strategy at a moment’s notice is absolutely necessary to keep up! 

If your client unexpectedly adds a new launch to the calendar, you’ve got to shift your priorities around to start ramping up buzz for the product. Or maybe they’ll bump a promotion forward or backward — you need to be willing to move quickly and adapt your pitching strategy as needed. 

But beyond that, adding flexibility to your toolbox of public relations characteristics will help you land more of your dream clients. Being adaptable shows your clients that you’re professional and ready for anything! Just don’t let your boundaries crumble in an effort to be uber-flexible; you can’t bend over backward for something that’s not an emergency. 

#3: Organized 

As a PR pro, you’re your own manager and timekeeper…which is why organization is key! And I’m not just talking about keeping your home workspace clean (which you should definitely do!). You need to make sure your schedule and workflows are totally organized, too. 

A good organizational system keeps you on track to continue growing your agency by bringing on new clients, networking with the media, and pitching for major opportunities. It’ll help you know when to do which tasks and when to follow up as needed. Honestly, the more organized you are, the more successful you’ll be as a PR pro. 

#4: Thick-Skinned 

To truly thrive in PR, you have to learn to not take things personally. Being thick-skinned is one of the most important public relations characteristics you need to work on — and it can be a tough one to master! 

Once you get your start in PR, you’ll quickly learn that there is so much outside of your control. A client feature you thought was 100% confirmed could get pulled last minute, or a client could ask to terminate services even though you’re killing it for them. Sometimes your pitches will get only crickets in response (although we make sure that doesn’t happen inside The Pitch Lab!). 

But you can do this! You’re skilled, talented, and qualified. You just need to work on building your own defenses and learn to let the tougher parts of the job roll right off your back. 

Related: How to Handle a Service Termination or Pause Request from a Client

#5: Detail-Oriented Writer

You should be detail-oriented in general as a PR pro, but being a detail-oriented writer is absolutely crucial! Crafting messages and narratives that draw people in and get them excited is a major part of PR. Great writers can paint a vivid picture with their pitches in the most effective, concise way possible. 

If you’re not feeling confident in your writing skills, don’t worry. Becoming a great writer is a lifelong journey and you should constantly work on improving your writing and pitching talents. Inside The Pitch Lab, our members are always growing their skills to become better writers. 

Beyond great writing, you need to have great grammar (this is where being detail-oriented is a seriously important public relations characteristic!). Small mistakes like typos or inaccurate contact info can totally undermine your credibility and make clients or media contacts reluctant to work with you. When you’re spot-on with even the tiniest details, clients and editors will trust you to deliver impeccable work and will see you as an established expert. 

#6: Creative 

Creativity is one of the most important public relations characteristics you can have! Your pitches need to be creative, fresh, and highly tailored to your client’s unique needs and each publication’s requirements. The most successful PR pros are willing and able to think outside of the box on even the smallest details. 

Your creativity comes from what makes YOU unique. Think about what it is about you that makes clients so excited to work with you. There are tons of PR pros out there, and though we all share some important public relations characteristics, no one has the same unique strengths and talents as you! 

Related: 6 PR Strategies To Keep Your Pitches Fresh (Even When There’s No News)

#7: Eager & Ambitious 

Ever heard the saying “stay ready so you don’t have to get ready?” That’s basically what being a PR pro is! The best PR pros stay prepared and seek out every opportunity they can, and are always ready to pitch for last-minute features. 

Eager and ambitious PR pros take advantage of the tools at their fingertips, like HARO (Help A Reporter Out), and participate in training programs to grow their skills. They’re constantly evaluating (and re-evaluating) their own work to see where they can improve. 

#8: Empathetic

I’m sure you know the stereotype: PR pros are all extroverts who are loud and outgoing. But honestly? That’s not the case!

Of course, it’s great to be outgoing, interested in people, and able to connect with others, but you don’t have to be a total extrovert to be successful in PR. Right now, the best public relations characteristic you can possess to be successful is empathy

People hate when companies come off as ignorant of social issues or larger global problems. You need to be able to empathize with audiences in your target demographic and beyond to figure out what’s going to resonate (and what will totally miss the mark). Plus, when you approach client and media relationships with empathy and grace, you’ll build solid connections that will carry you through the years. 

There are an endless number of PR skills that you’ll strengthen throughout your career, but developing these 8 public relations characteristics will help you find true success. Whether you want to grow your creativity and flexibility or become a more responsive and organized PR pro, you need to put in the work and do it for yourself.