I applaud Advertising Age for its latest edition, The Marketer Issue. Each page is dog-eared and marked up; what amazing blog fodder. This article, Skills Wanted: What’s Required of The Next Generation of Marketers, is rich with tips on how marketing needs to re-invent for future success.
I’m taking the ideas herein, adjusting them with my spin and sharing them as tips for public relations peeps. After all, we in the PR profession must re-invent too if there’s a chance in hell for success down the road.
People who know me know I’ve been in the field of public relations since 1984. I entered the profession as a pure PR’ist and stayed as such for probably 10 years. That’s about when email entered the scene and slowly and surely all things changed. Pure/traditional public relations was turned on its head (for out of the box thinkers like me), and I slowly began to migrate towards marketing.
We all know what’s happened to the profession since the onset of social media and social marketing – that boundary between marketing and public relations has blurred to near non-existence. Step up, PR, and re-invent yourself for future success; your investment portfolio will thank you.
To push you in the right direction, here are 11 ways to re-invent, and I credit Ad Age’s Maureen Morrison for writing the article that provided this inspiration:
>> Be a multi-disciplinarian. Used to be back in my Chicago agency days that people asked, “Are you a strategist or tactician? Do you specialize or are you a generalist?” I was never a specialist; I wanted to know everything. That’s why I love being an agency brat – we get to service a breadth of clients from all walks of life and industries. This is amazing training.
>> Learn Data & Analytics. The old excuse has always been to leave the numbers to the marketers. No more, PR! We must interpret data as well as analytics to create better campaigns and programs. Do not leave the back-end analytics to marketing; without this knowledge you’ll miss the opportunity to make key decisions. Your leadership ability will also suffer.
>> Master social media apps and tools. No brainer, right? (Aside: I wrote that once in a corporate article and was never hired again, so now I get to use it and no one will fire me.) Just when you think you’re getting tired of keeping up with the Jones’s, push the gas and plow back in. Social media is NOT going away, and developers will keep tossing new apps/tools at us every day. You have to walk the talk.
>> Be technology centric and driven. The new generation of tablets, digital readers, smart phones, personal health monitoring devices, and other new gadgets are being developed at an amazing pace. Be well read and informed about these; in fact, incorporate budget to buy the devices and play (if you get that opportunity).
>> Understand ROI. No doubt about it, PR has to contribute to ROI, and we’ve always skirted that issue. Setting up metrics (I don’t care if that word is over-used; it’s the word to use) and measuring how our programs affect the bottom line is a critical success quotient for practitioners’ value.
>> Be nimble, agile and a quick study. Teams are strapped for time; training budgets are out the window, and it’s up to you to be agile enough to learn on your own. Being a quick thinker with wit, problem/solution solving, and flexibility to roll with the punches are what will earn you success.
>> Less tactical; more strategic. I’m unsure if strategy can be taught or if it’s innate. I’d like to think that with maturity as a professional, a strategist orientation unfolds. As a youngster in PR, you will be assigned tactics to execute; ensure you align yourself with a senior mentor who can help you with ideation. Observe how these peoples’ minds deliver and then emulate that example.
>> Search marketing. This arena is no longer strictly under the guise of digital marketers or internet marketing specialists. Trust me when I tell you, “PR people must understand the basics of search marketing and then some.” Whether you master this is not critical; however, understanding and contributing about this topic is important. The impact search marketing has on a PR program influences the entire integrated campaign.
>> Keep “traditional.” I am absolutely against using the word “traditional” to differentiate what others deliver as PR practitioners over what I deliver in a blended offering (PR and social with marketing). While I firmly advise losing “traditional” to describe PR services, don’t lose sight of how our profession evolved and became viable. When I see youth in the profession suggesting the press release is dead, I cringe. In no way will the press release die; it (along with other PR tactics) will continue to evolve.
>> Focus on the audience. It’s the role of PR to keenly focus on all stakeholders and craft and deliver messages targeting each. Consumers’ outside-in communication orientation with business requires a higher level of creativity and strategy for PR programs. We have to continually understand from where and how consumers comingle with business. This will drive strategy as we execute integrated marketing programs.
>> Be financially savvy. Yet another numbers request and this one is serious. Ensure you are savvy about interpreting profit-and-loss statements. Understand financial reports issued by your company so you can influence business objectives with communications strategy.
It’s a tall order, friends, and no one is suggesting you learn it overnight. Tackle each one as soon as you can and then master the areas you like more. Staying fit as a PR person requires constant learning. Those who adopt a re-invention approach like this, or similar, will enjoy a storied career in this exciting profession.
(I think I need to print bumper stickers – “Proud To Be In PR.”) What can you add to this starter package?