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5 skills PR grads must master for post-covid jobs


Mary Jenkins
5 skills PR grads must master for post-covid...

If you’re a recent or upcoming college graduate, the negative influence that Covid-19 has had on the job market is a cause of immense stress. Although job prospects for recent and upcoming college grads may seem bleak, looking ahead and understanding the skills needed in the post-covid world will set you up for success when hiring does open back up. 

As vaccines become more widely distributed and clients refocus on PR, firms are likely to restart hiring aggressively. Even the announcement of vaccines alone encouraged many PR firms across the country to pick back up with hiring. The best thing you can do as a recent PR grad is prepare for openings, which will likely be paired with an influx of applications. 

Here are five skills PR grads should master to prepare themselves for post-covid hiring: 

Upskilling

One of the most frustrating parts of applying for jobs as a new graduate after the pandemic will be the increase in competition. Dr. Christine Menges, Director of the MBA Career Center at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management  says that, “Now is the time to make sure you have the skills which are needed not only now, but in three or five-years’ time.” This is called upskilling, and it’s a preparation tactic that will serve you well in a competitive job market. Keep your eye on growing demand and make predictions or follow predictions from experts about the soon-to-be needed skills, then choose online courses and training relevant to those skills. 

E-commerce and digital marketing have increased in importance during Covid and this is a trend that will likely be sustained once things open back up. Hopeful PR professionals should differentiate themselves by diversifying their communications knowledge to include digital tactics and ecommerce capabilities. Because of job losses, overqualified individuals are being forced to apply to lower-level positions often reserved for college grads. Make yourself competitive as a recent grad by proving yourself as a connoisseur of digital PR, and uniquely adept to navigate the challenges of PR in a digital marketing age. 

Innovation

Events are cancelled, trade shows paused, and in person meetings, pitches, and media opportunities have been stopped, for the most part. Companies need fresh opinions to revive from the year long struggle navigating the obstacles of Covid. Consider targeting areas of PR that have not lost business during Covid and are not likely to lose business when things normalize including healthcare, pharma and tech, to name a few. Not only that, but make sure you emphasize innovation as a skill you bring to the table. After over a year of this “new normal,” clients will be looking for cutting edge PR solutions, new voices, and unique ways to cut through the noise. 

Social concern and responsibility

During Covid, “normal” marketing campaigns that tout lavish lifestyles or “pre-covid” concerns, have been replaced by campaigns that are more socially conscious and relevant to social concerns and calls for systemic change. Covid-19 paired with social unrest has unveiled a more authentic type of marketing and communications. Harvard Business Review cites a recent study from Morning consult finding that, “merely saying the “right things” or “standing in solidarity” no longer cut it with consumers.” Consumers want action, and as a PR professional you can develop creative ways to make sure your clients unite strategy with purpose, and speak to the concerns of the public in an authentic, action-oriented way. 

As an applicant, your interest in social justice or climate change is no longer taboo, in fact your passions for things that matter outside of sales or status-quo business are now an asset to clients looking to infuse their messages with authenticity. An individual who knows what resonates with the public and what comes off as disingenuous will play an increasingly important role post-covid, as consumer appetites evolve. Sustainability is predicted to be one of the most important talking points for brands, and as a hopeful PR professional you should be extra-knowledgeable about your clients stance on sustainability as well as industry trends on sustainability. 

Making sure your clients “walk-the-walk” is now a unique and sought-after skill in the industry. It is also predicted that influencers will zero in on authenticity and prioritize brand partnerships that echo the social consciousness of their audience. With the importance of influencers on the rise, brand partnerships with influencers will require an innate knowledge of authenticity, tone-awareness, and current events.

Flexibility

If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from Covid, it’s that adaptability is key to success. The same can be said generally about success in the PR world. Being game to work remotely, hybrid, or in-person and being literate in all of the tools needed to work in those different modalities will prove to be a skill in and of itself. Workplaces are not likely to look the same as they did pre-covid, and relationships over a distance will remain important. Being able to translate skills from remote work or school to a professional environment — everything from running Zoom meetings to communicating with clients over email — will be valuable. 

Data

PR gets a bad rep for not being as data-driven as some other communications industries, but that is changing. Understanding the impact of communications initiatives, from influencer outreach to media placements, is essential to strategizing for clients and increasing ROI. Not only that, but it’s predicted that the line between PR and Marketing will continue to dissolve. Proving value–social value, utility, bang for your buck–will require public relations experts to get a grip on data. 

Having the know-how to understand KPIs traditionally used by digital marketers — and deeply understanding the KPIs that are becoming popular for public relation specialists, including how to find them, what they mean, and what to do once you know them — will be crucial for new hires. 

Get ahead of the game by becoming literate in the data-heavy side of PR and communications. When you go to interview at a PR firm, make sure you infuse your answers with actionable insights based on data related to the industry. 

About Mary Jenkins: Mary is a Senior Communications Associate for Swyft, which is a tech PR firm in San Francisco, Austin, Denver and Houston. Swyft was listed as a top digital marketing and PR agency in Denver by BuiltinColorado. In addition to being a top tech PR agency in San Francisco, Swyft was also listed as one of the top tech PR agencies in Texas by the B2B services review site, Clutch.co.

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