A couple of weeks ago I published a post looking at topic areas you must have an understanding of if you want a future in PR. It covered things including online behaviour, link building and the intersection of different types of digital media.
This post builds on that by identifying not just areas you need a working knowledge of, but specific things you need to learn how to do in order to future proof your career in public relations and communications.
As I said in that first post, the amount of time you can continue to wing it is getting less with every passing week. Within a very short year or two this stuff will be mandatory and, without wishing to sound melodramatic, if you don’t step up to the mark, someone else will.
[UPDATE: After publishing this post I read a short piece on City A.M. that demonstrates the convergence of marketing disciplines perfectly. At the Brighton SEO show there were sessions on branding, content marketing, influencer relations and psychology, among others.]
I hope you find this list useful to help identify areas in which you need training or need to upskill, and into which you need to invest your time and training budget. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to discuss further.
So here they are. The 9 key things you need to know how to do for a future in PR.
How to Talk About Digital Strategy with Authority
Something I hear an awful lot at the moment is that agency bosses feel that their staff are ‘winging it’. They fear that they can do the basics of social media, but when it comes to answering their clients’ questions about broader digital strategy and Google and how everything links together, they don’t have a scooby and are blagging it.
Until now, that’s probably been fine. But clients are now exposed to more and more information, and if they know more than you do, you’re in trouble. You must get to grips with digital strategy and know how to chat about it comfortably if you want a future in the communications industry.
How to Plan a Strategic Digital Campaign
Understanding the integration of different media types is the start point, and the PESO model is a fantastic way of getting to grips with this. But once you’ve got your head around that, you also need to know how to put that knowledge into practice and how to plan holistic campaigns that touch people in as many places online as possible.
That involves planning in elements of search, paid media, content marketing and mobile, which is something you need to be comfortable in knowing how to do.
How to Interrogate Google Analytics
In the past PR has struggled to measure its efforts and has struggled in the boardroom as a result. But with the world moving to digital, there’s an awful lot that can now be measured. As a major part of that, knowing how to create and analyse trackable links should be a given. But using Google Analytics features like goals, funnel paths and attribution analysis is no longer the realm of web geeks. Google Analytics is your friend, so take the time to learn how to use it.
How to Identify and Use Keywords for SEO
If you’re still unsure of the value of PR to SEO, read this. But assuming you understand the value of link building as part of a communications campaign, you need to be able to research relevant keyword phrases for specific campaigns you’re running, evaluate them against each other and then deploy them effectively. This really should be a standard part of PR in 2017.
How to Analyse a Website’s Authority and Links
So you understand that getting a link back from dailymail.co.uk is more valuable than a link from paulsutton.co. Do you know why? Do you know how to evaluate the difference in those links? Do you understand domain authority, page authority and how to measure them? Do you understand anchor text, page context and no-follow? You need to.
How to Identify Real Influencers
In the prequel to this post I talked about understanding the true nature of influence as a core area of knowledge. Following on from that, if you work in PR you must know how to identify who is really influential and who just has a large social media following.
There’s still an over-reliance on celebrities and social media darlings when it comes to ‘influence marketing’, which comes from misunderstanding influence and measuring the wrong things.
Stop. Learn how to dig deeper, research micro-influencers and use software tools to uncover where real influence lies and start making a difference to the bottom line.
How to Implement Targeted Paid Social Media Campaigns
You know that you can pay to put your content in front of people on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Google, right? Do you know how?
Do you know what targeting options are available to you or what the costs might be or what return you can expect? Do you know how to set up a paid social media campaign from scratch, what information and assets you’ll need, or how to track that campaign in Google Analytics? Paid media is a big part of communications in 2017 and it’s an area you must get to grips with if you want to maximise your campaigns.
How to Build a Measurement Framework
It really is time that PR stepped up to the mark and started to measure its efforts in a more rounded manner. Sure, you do your best to measure media outputs and social media metrics, but what about the impact on search rankings, for example? And when it comes to the business value of those efforts, what then?
The start point is knowing how to structure a framework that measures both outputs and business results and, at the very least, draws direct correlations between one and the other. But if you don’t know how to do this at the start of a campaign, you’re onto a loser from day one.
How to Identify Business Opportunities Beyond Pure PR
This is arguably the most important thing on this list. PR, SEO, advertising and other forms of marketing are coming together in a huge land grab for marketing budgets. And the rate at which they’re doing so is speeding up due to factors like the print media being on its last legs, terrestrial TV following suit and the rise and rise of mobile. In a few years, everything will be digital and on-demand.
And while that is undoubtedly a threat to the communications industry, it’s also opening up new opportunities. Pure PR budgets are harder to come by, with most now including some form of digital, even if that’s purely social media. But the more progressive agencies are diversifying, albeit slowly, into other areas in order to generate new revenue streams.
For most agencies, you’re not going to need to create an arm that carries out technical SEO or produces TV ads or buys huge swathes of media anytime soon. But there is money to be had in link building for SEO, PPC on Google and social media advertising, for example.
I met with the BBC recently to discuss helping them with the digital elements of an upcoming season of programming, and what impressed me was the fact that they’re taking a very forward-looking view of the broadcast media and how it is evolving. They’re responding to threats like Netflix and Amazon. They’re aware of what Facebook and Apple might do. And so they’re unlikely to get caught out Blockbuster-style when terrestrial TV finally keels over in a few years’ time.
Back in communications land, you can and should increase the ever-dwindling pure PR pot if you take a more holistic view of digital communications. The start point is the very first item on this list: learning how to talk about digital strategy with authority. If you can do that, you’re on your way to identifying opportunities with existing and new clients that drastically increase available budgets.
As a start point, why not get yourself a ticket to Digital Download London, which takes place on 27th April. Digital Download is a training and workshop day that covers areas including digital strategy, SEO, influencer marketing, social media crisis management and future trends. There are now only a few tickets remaining, but you can still find more information and book tickets here before it’s too late.