Whether or not the latest role moniker is adopted by an industry often has to do with the value brought by those who pioneer the title. You may have even seen how we wholeheartedly adopted the PR Engineer term back in 2014, but what you may not know is what the heck a PR Engineer does or why we’re so obsessed with this role.
You can probably tell from the title that PR Engineers sit at the intersection of data and storytelling, which is exactly where every single business needs to be in order to stand out and surpass competition. Now let’s dig a little deeper into what comprises this unique, emerging role.
Below is an interview with PR Engineer Rachel Kirschen, so you can better understand why we think this role is poised to be the next big thing.
Leta Soza: Alright, Rachel. What exactly does a PR Engineer do and how does this role fit into the greater PR picture?
Rachel Kirschen: As a PR Engineer, I work directly with our customer base to ensure they are extracting the most value from our PR analytics, insights, and measurement platform. We then use the data provided in the platform to optimize and inform their PR efforts.
The entire PR industry is making moves towards a data-driven approach to optimization and outcomes, so my expertise in how data can be applied to the PR discipline helps build the bridge from the industry’s past to its exciting future.
Besides being customer-facing, I am also a platform expert, a liaison to the engineering team, a contributor to product innovation, and a brand champion. It may seem like a lot of touchpoints for one role, but that’s the best part about being a PR Engineer. I am uniquely positioned to inform pretty much every part of my organization.
LS: Walk me through a day in the life of a PR Engineer. What does the pie chart of your role look like?
RK: No two days are ever alike, but my time typically breaks down into the following buckets:
- 25% = Customer Collaboration & Management: Facilitating onboarding, ensuring data cleanliness, setting product goals
- 30% = Data Mining: Identifying patterns, surfacing interesting tidbits, plucking out compelling insights
- 20% = Strategy Development: Knowledge transfers, recommendations based on industry shifts, unearthing storytelling opportunities
- 15% = Product Innovation: Communicating customer feedback, streamlining and improving processes, feature brainstorming
- 10% = Content & Education: Bringing best practices to light, writing blog posts, building out tutorials
LS: When you first encountered the opportunity to become a PR Engineer, what excited you about the role?
RK: My background is in account and project management, so what really piqued my interest was the word “engineer” in the title. Before joining the tech world, I never had a full appreciation for the work engineers do, but now I understand that engineering is as much about problem solving as it is about building stuff.
I love having a job that straddles tech and information. I get to exist in both worlds and help PR see the value each brings to the table while demonstrating the magic that happens when these two forces work together.
The PR Engineer does have a substantial technical component to it. I don’t write code or fix bugs, but I do command our product while being the middle woman between our end users and the engineering team.
Providing our engineers with information about how people are using our product is a really important feedback loop. But it requires a great deal of emotional intelligence because you have to learn how to communicate effectively with two very different sets of people, engineers and customers.
Being in this role means living and breathing customer data, engineering customer PR strategies, and working closely with the tech team to ensure that we are looking at every product decision through a customer-centric lens.
LS: What is the best thing about being a PR Engineer?
RK: The best part about being a PR Engineer is that every day brings something new. This can definitely be a challenge, but the opportunity to learn something every day is thrilling. A culture of constant learning was one of the main reasons I decided to become a PR Engineer.
My other favorite part of being a PR Engineer is working with a team who is so passionate about the work we do. Every single person at AirPR is committed to building the best product and fundamentally changing the way people value and do PR. It’s not every day you get the chance to stand at the edge of innovation and be a leading voice of change for an entire industry.
LS: What are some skills that lend themselves to achieving success as a PR Engineer?
RK: Excellent communication skills via various channels (email, phone, in-person) are paramount. When you touch as many departments as I do, you have to know how to “speak” your audience’s language.
Listening goes hand in hand with clear, succinct communication. I often find myself wanting to take lots of notes during customer conversations, but recently I’ve discovered that I hear the most when I intently listen and cut out even the smallest distraction (e.g. my keyboard).
As corny as it sounds, having a good attitude and being friendly goes a long way too. Being a PR Engineer can be stressful and when the pace is non-stop, it’s so important to smile and remind yourself that there will always be challenges to overcome and problems to solve.
But that’s why the job rocks! Nothing on the cutting edge is ever boring or banal. Nor would I want it to be. 🙂
LS: Any parting words of wisdom?
RK: I think the only other thing I would say is that there is no perfect mix of prior experience that comes before being a PR Engineer. If you love storytelling, are fascinated by numbers, value relationships, and believe in collaboration, then this is likely the perfect role for you.
Being a PR Engineer allows you to tap a tremendous number of skills and just like PR itself the role is a layer, not a silo. The most important characteristic of any PR Engineer is intellectual curiosity because at the end of the day, we are exploring uncharted territory and that requires a firm mental adherence to pressing onward and upward at all times.