by Roger Pynn
An interesting article in Tactics, a publication of the Public Relations Society of America, makes a case for writing as the most sought-after skill in public relations. With apologies to the author Hanna Porterfield, let me say that writing is just a bar for entry. What I want is people with critical thinking skills … who hopefully are writers.
Of course, you have to be able to put your thoughts “on paper” in this business. But I can teach even a fair writer to do better work in that area. What I can’t do, I’ve found, is teach people to logically think through a problem or challenge instinctively.
Why? I think it stems from what and how they are taught in school. Few public relations programs I’ve seen have more than one – if even that – course addressing how to think through the challenges you’ll face as a practitioner.
Sure, it is true, that in your early days in our world you will be doing sometimes repetitive research to find out what has already been published on a topic, or to create a media list or identify thought leaders. And you’ll be asked to write a lot less than the Great American Novel. But if you are truly cut out for public relations, you’ll approach each of those tasks by asking one big question.
“Why?” is the question that should drive everything. When you understand why you are doing something, why information is important, why the three paragraph release or blog post fits into an overall communication program, you’ll be on your way to bigger assignments.
We’re trying to hire an entry-level communications specialist now. To us, entry level is someone with a couple of years of experience under their belt. They should be looking for that second job … one that gives them the chance to write bigger things, be part of creating strategies and take their place on the front line with clients and community.
The biggest challenge for us right now is finding that person who can think … as well as write.