4 Essential Public Relations Skills You Need For Continuous Career Growth

Sep 26, 2022

Entrepreneurs (and especially PR pros!) need to aim for continuous growth…but it’s hard in the ever-changing media landscape! To continuously grow and reach your goals despite industry shifts, you need to focus on developing your public relations skills. Some skills are more beneficial to your success than others, though, so you need to know which ones will actually facilitate the most growth for your agency. 

4 Public Relations Skills to Foster Continual, Long-Term Growth 

After over 17 years running my agency, I’ve narrowed a huge list of public relations skills down to just four that are crucial to an agency’s long-term growth. These are skills that can be continuously honed and improved no matter where you are in your PR pro journey. Read on to learn the four public relations skills that are key to your agency’s continued success and growth. 

Learn to Translate Complex Topics 

Even when a client is technically in your niche, it’s common to occasionally not fully understand their products or services! After all, no one’s automatically an expert in everything. 

But you do have to actively become an expert on them (and their competitors) super quickly, and that means doing quality research and getting the rest of your team up to speed. To do that, you’ll need to take the complex information you’re learning and distill it into understandable tidbits to pass along to your team and the media. 

Knowing how to translate these difficult topics is one of the most important public relations skills PR pros need to work on. When you understand a new product, topic, or service, you can break it down into newsworthy, clickable, compelling pitches and content for your clients. This will help you take on more and more clients in every part of your niche and continue growing your agency as clients come and go. 

Becoming an expert in your niche is part of honing this skill. When you practice researching and growing your knowledge of complex topics, you’ll be able to pick up on things easier the next time you land a new client. Plus, your expertise will make you a key resource for your media contacts.

Stay Curious 

To be a successful PR pro, you have to stay curious — not just about your niche or the industry, but about your current and potential clients, their competitors, and your media contacts, too! You should constantly seek out opportunities to challenge your thinking, learn new technologies and techniques, and gain new perspectives on your niche. 

Curious people ask questions, but PR pros need to anticipate what questions will be asked, too (that’s part of why curiosity is such a powerful public relations skill!). Think about possible follow-up questions to pitches, and include those answers in your emails to make sure everything resonates. This is also a huge part of preparing for interviews, chats with your media contacts, or discovery calls: when you have an idea of what questions you’ll be asked, you can come prepared with knowledge and answers that show off your expertise.

Being curious is how you develop deeper, stronger connections with your clients and PR network. People like people who engage in conversations and are interested in what they have to say! Keep conversations going by asking deep questions, really learning about the other person and their opinions, and giving them your full attention. One deep conversation, even if it’s brief, could lead to a stellar referral, a cool collaboration with another PR pro, or a crucial press feature at a top-tier outlet. 

Related: How to Develop Confidence in Your PR Skills

Become Adaptable 

Being adaptable is one of the most important public relations skills, and every PR pro knows it. But that flexibility is also a key part of continuing your agency’s growth! When you can switch up your strategy on the fly or shift to Plan B in seconds, you’ll be better prepared to navigate challenges and avoid mishaps while working with clients. 

As you work on your adaptability, developing a thick skin in your agency will come naturally. Working with clients and media pros can get pretty tricky at times, so it’s essential to not take things personally, understand that it’s all just business, and bounce back from a roadblock quickly. 

You can write the most thorough proposal of your career or send out the best pitch you’ve ever done, but at the end of the day, the results are in someone else’s hands and you have to accept that. Sometimes, even when you do everything perfectly, clients still request to pause or terminate their services, and that’s okay. 

You have no control over which press features you land, which prospective clients join your agency, or which clients end their contracts. So keep working on your adaptability and other public relations skills (and develop a client pipeline like we talk about in The Agency Accelerator) to continue growing your business. 

Impeccable Communication

A PR pro is also a communications pro, so you’ll need to have impeccable communication skills to foster long-term growth in your agency. And this communication goes in all directions! Part of mastering this public relations skill is understanding how to communicate with your prospective and current clients, their audiences, your media contacts, and your team.

It’s all about communicating crucial information succinctly and effectively. If you’re in a sticky situation with a client — like when you have to reset their unrealistic expectations — face that hard conversation head-on and take control of the situation with your communication skills. Communicate the disconnect in a healthy, positive way to keep your relationship strong. 

The same goes for when you’re briefing your team on a new client or talking through an issue you’re dealing with (and you will need to hire a team to truly scale your agency — we talk about this a TON in The Agency Accelerator). Utilize all of your public relations skills to pull out the most crucial bits of information they need to know, communicate them effectively, ask questions to get their perspective, and be adaptable in finding a solution. 

Related: 8 Public Relations Characteristics all Comms Pros Need to Be Successful

No single thing will guarantee your agency’s continued growth and success, but working on these four public relations skills and using them every day is the best way to get there! Each is another piece of the puzzle in scaling your business and reaching your biggest goals and growth milestones.