Influencing: It’s what PR is all about. How and when you engage with your target market is central to public relations. No-one can deny how influencing skills have evolved, with the rise of the digital age and social media, which means that at interviews, today’s practitioners need to convey their understanding of the complexities of an increasingly demanding and multi-faceted marketplace. Traditional communication skills are still important. Running a slick team with the smooth exchange of information has an impact on efficiency and productivity, and ultimately affects the bottom line.
Teamwork and interpersonal skills: From pitch to delivery you need to be able to work alongside others; internally and externally, with stakeholders and sponsors. Be prepared to drop in examples of your interpersonal skills during your interview. Think about the various kinds of interactions you encounter in PR. eg client rapport, cross-departmental collaboration, media relations, out-sourced partnerships.
Organisation: When you’re spinning plates, time management and organisation is critical. Having the ability to arrange a media briefing one minute, an online campaign the next, and still find time to fit in a bit of copy writing is an art required by every PR. The variety and pace of the job is one of its appeals, but it means a good candidate will be adaptable enough to prioritise work and observe tight deadlines. Employers will also be looking for the flexibility to drop everything and stay at work in a crisis.
Results driven: Every PR client is looking for a cost effective campaign strategy that gives a good return on investment. Whether you’re working as a generalist or a specialist, b2b or b2c, it’s crucial to show how you can deliver innovative ideas within a framework of costings. Have figures to hand and be comfortable talking through a number of case studies, outlining campaigns you’ve worked on, strategies you’ve devised, budget restraints, the timing of delivery, analysis of outcomes etc.
Initiative/decision making skills: Sound decision makers are an asset to any business. Shilly-shallying over what to do slows down processes and costs companies’ money. Taking decisive action when necessary and having the vision to see objectives and outcomes, are valuable qualities. Whether it’s day-to-day problem solving, strategy planning or dealing with a crisis, taking the initiative requires confidence that comes with a well-rounded professional.
Commercial awareness: Know your business and understand your competitors. It’s always impressive to speak to someone who is well informed about the sphere they work in. The world of PR is small and well connected, so research your competitors, speak to colleagues about your business and use every networking opportunity to keep in touch. Never attend an interview without checking out the agency or company beforehand. Try to be familiar with how it is structured, who makes up the senior management team and what its commercial position is. Be aware of any recent media activity and be prepared to discuss it during your meeting.
Leadership skills: Good leaders will lead by example, admit their mistakes and recognise the strengths of others. A leader has the vision to see the big picture and develop people and departments in line with the values of the company. Leaders have confidence in themselves and their people. If you’re not already managing people, then employers may be looking for your potential to do so in the future. For interviews at a junior level, think about examples of where you have shown leadership potential in previous roles or perhaps at college or university.
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