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Important Soft Skills for Public Relations Professionals


Who can persuade the public that a brand is worthy of consumers' money? Who has a plan to control the conversation when companies fail to protect customer data from a cyberattack? Who has the skills to transform data points into compelling content people want to read?

Public relations specialists do all this and more. For those with a talent for persuasion and the ability to build trust, a career in public relations may be ideal. Earning a bachelor's degree in public relations is the first step.

For example, Northwest Missouri State University offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Communication – Public Relations online program. This program prepares graduates with the knowledge, skills and powers of persuasion for this in-demand career.

What Skills Can Help Public Relations Specialists Get Ahead?

Communication skills are the foundation of a career in public relations. Other skills, such as media relations, analytics and SEO, may also help applicants land a job, but the most sought-after skills come from a different category.

LinkedIn's 2019 Global Talent Trends report states that soft skills drive most hiring and firing decisions. Unlike technical skills such those is data science or web analytics, soft skills are not specific to any one career. Instead, they are skills that support success in every profession.

Public relations specialists will naturally want to sharpen skills that support communication. Examples include:

Collaboration: This skill is a must for public relations professionals. Take public relations and marketing teams as just one example. Public relations may be focused on the company's image, while marketing may promote specific products or services. But, these roles overlap on many levels. Collaboration, which requires communication, ensures that efforts align for maximum value. 

Attention to detail: You are unlikely to hear anyone telling a public relations specialist "don't sweat the small stuff." The small stuff matters. Communication is at the heart of public relations, and accuracy is crucial. Even a typo can create a problem. From media pitches to press releases, careful editing and proofreading are imperative for a company's communications to make a positive impression.

Creativity: According to the LinkedIn report, creativity is one of the skills employers have the most difficulty finding. Creativity is not just for artists, musicians, actors, dancers and authors — it has a place in all disciplines.  

Creativity is part of every aspect of public relations, which does not mean coming up with viral campaigns every time (though the cause-based "Ice Bucket Challenge" was a sensation). Instead, creativity drives the daily activities of public relations specialists as they craft the stories that develop a strong brand identity.

Composure: To understand the need for this skill, just think about what happens to a company in a crisis: an ice cream manufacturer recalls its products for safety issues or a hospital might suffer a cyberattack that puts patient data (and safety) in jeopardy. Having a crisis communications plan is essential, as is having a skilled PR specialist with the composure to communicate quickly and calmly when that crisis inevitably occurs.

What Is the Job Outlook for Public Relations Specialists?

A degree in public relations can open the door to a career with business, nonprofit and government employers in every industry. Strong job growth and above-average pay are other incentives in this influential career.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field will grow 11% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the national average. The median annual salary for public relations specialists is $62,810, compared to $41,950 for all workers. The top 10% earn over $118,210.

If you think a career in public relations sounds good, you are not alone. "Public Relations Specialist" took the number one spot in U.S. News & World Report Best Creative and Media Jobs rankings. Earning a B.S. in public relations can give candidates an edge in landing one of these top-rated jobs.

Learn more about Northwest Missouri State University's online Bachelor of Science in Communication – Public Relations program.


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