15 Digital Skills PR Pros Must Master



Posted: In: Blogs PR Education

Two People Using Laptops
Sally Falkow, president of PRESSfeed and founder of Meritus Mediais no stranger to the AirPR blog.

In fact, she’s a downright digital regular!

From her brilliant trends reports to our mutually shared love of integrating data into content, Sal is one of those PR pros who quite simply “gets” it. So it should come as no surprise that when one of Sally’s latest offerings (a concise and spot on round up of must-have PR skills) crossed my path, I jumped at a chance to share it with all of you.

If you think we tee’d you up for success in 2016, Sally is going to ensure you knock it out of the park.

And now, on to the wisdom o’ Falkow…

Cision recently launched a campaign around the hashtag #PitchPRomise that has stirred up conversation in the PR community – both pro and con. The premise of the Pitch PRomise is there is a perception that, in general, PR pros don’t take enough care with the distribution of press releases and pitches.

It’s dangerous to generalize and slap a label on any group of people and this is probably why we’ve seen an indignant backlash from PR folk who protest that they’re being accused of bad practices that they don’t do.  However, just as a brand has an image, so too does the PR industry. Image and perception are closely tied together. Corporate image is a core function of PR, so we should understand how an image gets formed and why the actions of some might impact the group as a whole.

25 years ago when I first started teaching PR at the university level the number one complaint from editors and reporters was that PR practitioners sent them irrelevant press releases and pitches. Many PR pros at that time were using the “spray and pray” method of distribution. They’d send the release or pitch to as many reporters as possible and hope for a result.

I taught my students to build relationships with the media – it’s called Media Relations after all. I made it very clear that the best results came from getting to know the reporters and only sending them material that fit their beat and the topics they covered.

I still talk to reporters, editors and bloggers on a regular basis, but for a different reason now. For the last five years I’ve produced the annual t and, sad to say, the number one complaint about PR from the media is still the same: we don’t do our homework and we send irrelevant press releases and pitches about topics that they don’t cover.

If this has not changed in 25 years I submit that we do indeed have an image problem. I don’t think Cision is stepping out of bounds here. They’re reacting to a legitimate issue. (Note:  I don’t work for or with Cision or use their products)

And yes, I do know that this is not what every PR practitioner does. But it must be happening with enough volume and consistency for the media to be holding this up as the number one #fail of the PR industry for a quarter of a century.

And now that PR and journalism are becoming more and more digital, the ground is shifting beneath our feet. There are news skills we need to learn when dealing with the media. What journalists need is changing. Their job is not what it was 5 years ago.

This complaint from the media is only going to get worse if we don’t learn:

  • How to do media analysis online
  • Spot the gaps in media coverage we can fill
  • Figure out what the media really needs and wants today
  • Produce stories that are timely and relevant
  • Pitch them correctly
  • Offer rich media assets and content in a way they can actually use

There are 15 Digital Skills every PR pros should master in 2016. Media Analysis and Media Relations Online are just two of them. Visual Content and Visual Literacy also impact your media relations results.  Metrics and analytics are essential to tracking results.

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