One in a sporadic series of work-related posts. I’ve been thinking about some of these for a while, and a couple of them in particular sparked the idea for a post. What do you think? These are in no particular order…
1. Polymath tendencies. I think a good consultant is able to shift with the winds, being as interested in mechanical engineering one day as social anthropology or fiscal policy the next. Being able to understand the drivers behind major political, social, economic and technological trend is a key skill in helping clients meet the media agenda and too many people come into careers without even the curiosity to help them evolve to a state of general interestedness in the world. If you can step into the shoes of a psychologist, information architect, one of your client’s customers – whatever it may be – it will provide an additional lens through which you can see campaign ideas, and provide another basis of insight on which you can build your ideas.
2. Hyperconnectivity. By this I mean that you are able to connect yourself into different information and social streams with deft facility – coping with dialogues on multiple channels, and absorbing information at a quick pace. It’ll help you cope with the burgeoning requirement of enterprise to keep tabs and engage with social media conversation, it’ll support your ability to engage with hyperconnected media contacts, it’ll let you be on the edge of what’s happening.
3. Numeracy (and visual thinking). I’ve talked about data before, and the ridiculous accessibility of it â€“ more than most people can understand or make use of. A PR’s job, in its simplest sense, is in crafting and communicating stories for and with its clients. Telling these stories increasingly requires a ludicrous amount of context and capturing this context in visual representations is a vital part of contemporary journalism and blogging. Everyone loves a good infographic – can you tell a story in pictures as readily as you can in words? Note that I don’t mean that you need to be a statistician, or a designer – just equipped enough to do some basic number crunching so that you can build the story – and think visually enough to brief a graphic designer to create what you want.
4. Literacy. I’ve met in equal number over the years – of PRs who treat the English language like an bat, crushing messages into as short a space as possible – and those that throw flowery turns of phrase into every other sentence. Good PR writing is jargon free, to the point, well-referenced, in context and over all else – concise.
5. Confidence. Whilst it may be possible to be a mild-mannered Clark Kent in the world of media (and I’m doubtful about that), PR calls for a strong temperament – you have to be able to consult (either into the business or to clients) which by definition may require taking a contrary view, you have to be able to deal with investigative journalists, you’ll probably have to deal with a crisis or two – all of this requires a steady hand and an occasionally loud voice. Not to mention confidence goes hand-in-hand with having no fear of the phone.
6. Ethics. It may be out of fashion for some, but at our agency – and in my own moral framework – it’s important to maintain certain boundaries. I’m not going to mention the obvious example here – if you’re in the industry you’ll know the current showcase example of dubious professional practice.
Have I missed any? Tell me in the comments.