“Excellence is not a skill, excellence is an attitude.”
Saying that our PR industry has changed is an understatement. 2020 and 2021 mercilessly showed us how quickly things can take a turn. PR pros in Nigeria and Africa have had a tough year – from facing ever-changing news cycles to quickly putting together messages according to Covid-19 and other challenges at hand.
So if the PR landscape looks so different from what we once knew, how can we adapt to what lies ahead? In addition to excellent content writing skills, here is a list of skills that will help you stay competitive in the exciting world of PR and Marketing and prepare you for 2022 and beyond.
Essential skills for PR and Marketing pros.
Online events management
Remember being at an event with 20.000 people? That most likely will not happen anytime soon. In a post-pandemic world, it may take a while before we feel at ease in big groups.
Although some Nigerians have not changed their party ways and still gather like nothing is happening, more news events will shift to the virtual realm.
To stay competitive as a PR specialist, you must be prepared to produce and host online events. That means being comfortable enough to present to a screen, instead of a crowd – and prepping everyone in your company to do so as well. It’s also about perfecting your script and testing your technology to ensure nothing goes wrong once you start. This is a must-have PR skill for now and the future.
Marketing is another essential skill needed by PR people. As communications roles continue to evolve, the lines between marketing and PR fade. Therefore, PR pros must adapt to skills and techniques that are already implemented in the marketing world. We should know how to measure ROI, position our product, roll out paid advertising campaigns, and, most of all, learn the art of selling.
PR specialists around the world agree that digital storytelling and social listening are key trends that will define the industry’s future. PR pros can’t fall behind and must become proactive learners.
Analyzing global trends vs local sentiments
Another future-proof skill for PR consultants is to be able to predict global or local sentiments on specific topics. Before launching a campaign, PR pros should have a feel for how people will react to their story to avoid an out-of-tune message blowing up in their face. There are tools out there that allow you to analyze social media platforms and evaluate various opinions on certain topics.
As a successful PR professional, beyond covering and reporting events, you must be able to extract value from numbers and transform data into actionable insights. This information will provide context for messaging strategy and will demonstrate PR’s contribution to the bottom line.
The recent diplomatic face-off between UAE and Nigeria over flying rights for Air Peace and Emirates Airline is a good example of the power of local sentiments at play.
African consumers are beginning to see through the excessively commercial news stories. They are tired of over-the-top copywriting and conspicuous marketing messages. They are craving for substance and are asking more frequently – where’s the beef?
Strong brand journalism skills are called for. By crafting powerful stories, just as media outlets do, brands can get quality exposure and increase their credibility without ever having to resort to spins and pitches.
Search Engine Optimization
Many Nigerian PR practitioners are yet to fully embrace the new reality of SEO and Google rankings.
If you want to power up your PR tactics, implementing SEO is a must. Search engine optimization is a potent tool that can help you reach your goals and increase visibility. Ensuring credibility is a common objective of PR professionals. Through SEO, you can get more backlinks to your website, which rank you higher on search rankings and grant your content more credibility.
By studying things like keyword efficiency and click-through rates, you’ll grasp a deeper understanding of what your target audience is looking for and which words they use to find it. SEO is part of the new digital reality.
Multimedia and videos
Another aspect of communications that was accelerated by 2020 and 2021 is the power of multimedia, specifically video. Comedians, celebrities, athletes and more regular people are turning to YouTube as their first line of communication.
The demand and consumption of multimedia have drastically increased in the past five years.
There are currently over 2 billion YouTube users worldwide and TikTok has surpassed Google as the most popular platform on the planet.
It’s up to PR pros in the future to understand the role of video in a communications strategy, as they can help cut through the noise and create content that sticks. This can only happen if PR executives upgrade their video and multimedia skills.
Social Media savvy
PR practitioners must be familiar with all forms of social media currently in use—a list that is constantly changing. Since social media platforms vary widely in terms of how they function and to whom they might appeal, each platform calls for a different strategy. Some messages are simply better suited to some platforms over others. A good PR person should be social media savvy for sure and be familiar with the major channels.
It is vital that PR pros be able to analyze the performance of their content and not just focus on media appearances.
Analytics will help you determine which pages are getting the most traffic, the kind of headlines that attract clicks, and the best performing content format. These data will help you perform your duty better as a PR or marketing professional. That way, you will also see through the difference between output and outcome.
One of the best platforms for analyzing content is Google Analytics. It is a free tool that will help you analyze the performance of your content.
Adapting to remote work
The future of work is already here. More business meetings are being transformed into Zoom and Microsoft Teams or Google virtual hangouts. It is unlikely that the situation will go back to “normal” in the upcoming years; therefore, knowing how to work remotely is a crucial skill PR pros must learn.