There are many skills attributed to good PR practitioners (including the ability to wear many, many hats) but the most important skill that never gets enough mention is writing.
With the evolution of PR, the skills that used to take you far (being good in a room, smooth-talking on the phone) have been de-emphasized. They’re still important, but when everyone (including and especially media) are communicating over text, your ability to quickly pitch a bored reporter over the phone becomes your least relevant skill.
The style of PR writing has also evolved.”PR writing” is no longer translated to “lame, boring, jargon-filled press release that no one cares about.” PR writing now means tweets, blog posts, Facebook updates, Instagram one-liners, Vine clips, Pinterest boards.
If you can’t communicate via the written word – whether in email pitches, 140-character tweets, or interesting Facebook status updates – you might as well be riding your dinosaur to work. The ability to compel the public, and reporters, with a few short words has become paramount.
The social media posts that tell the most succinct, brand-relevant stories are what’s setting companies apart, and what will help the next generation of PR professionals succeed. Brevity is the soul of (social media) wit.
It all comes down to storytelling, and if you can’t tell a story in an age where “Vine celebrities” are a thing (a huge, multi-million dollar thing), you’ll be left standing with a fax in your hand, wondering who to send your 3-page press release to.
Can’t write? Well, you’re not hopeless. Practice makes perfect. Read read read. Read every blog, every website, every magazine and every book you can get your hands on. Read Stephen King’s brilliant “On Writing” and savor the art of storytelling. It’s also the art of PR. Now get writing.