From Generalist to Specialist: Building a PR Career

From Generalist to Specialist: Building a PR Career

12 February 2017

Chances are good that you gravitated toward a career in PR because you were good at a wide variety of PR-friendly skills – a generalist. You believed your writing, organization, event planning, and personal relationship building would be an asset to the industry, and you were right. Now, however, technology is advancing rapidly, and the best PR teams are transforming to take full advantage of it. Teams of specialists who work together for one common goal will have greater success and broader reach than teams of generalists in this new PR landscape where big data, machine learning, bots, and other technology enhance traditional skill sets in social media, writing, and more.

As a strong generalist, you likely already have some of the qualities you will need to specialize. If you are goal and detail-oriented, creative, show confidence, excel at being self-directed and are eager to learn new things, you have a foundation for increasing your skills. For example, if you want to double-down on your SEO and analytics experience and focus on that as your specialty, Meltwater is a great resource. Our products can help those who want to specialize in analytics, SEO, reach. Your eagerness to learn and your drive will assist you as you start down this new path.

Five specialist trends in PR in which you can gain new skills to boost your career to the next level:

1. SEO: As SEO becomes more complicated it must anticipate not only traditional search, but voice search, botnets, audio, video, virtual reality, and other media. Before, becoming an SEO specialist meant mastering fairly static and predictable data and algorithms. Now, mastering SEO means learning new technology and thinking about reaching, and enticing, customers who will encounter your brand on a host of new platforms in new ways.

2. Analytics: Becoming an analytics specialist doesn’t require as much math knowledge as you’d think. Certainly brushing up on your skills in math won’t hurt, but a willingness to learn how to read data is more important. Why? Because analytics is more about understanding what the data is saying about your customer and their needs, wants, and habits than it is about counting stats.

3. Machine Learning/NLP: Machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, bots, artificial intelligence – whatever you call it, this is a next-level PR specialty that may have endless opportunity. In an age where even our phones have AI now, understanding how to leverage it for PR and discovery is going to become an essential skill. Taking some free classes online via sites like Coursera and Udemy is a great start.

4. Video: Like it or not, the world is becoming ever more visual, and images and videos are increasing in popularity. Before, this PR pro might have focused on TV, but as more and more people cut cords to go to subscription services like Netflix or the wild West of online video, it’s vital to understand how to make and leverage video content as well as how to influence and capitalize on video discovery and reach.

5. Storytelling: To be a great PR storyteller, enhance your existing social media, writing, listening, and relationship building skills. By listening to the real needs of your brand’s target customers and approaching PR through the lens of empathy as well as accountability, you can create compelling stories that drive brand reach. As you master storytelling and create more emotionally resonant stories, building your audience and trust in the brand, you can increase your success by partnering with the SEO and Analytics specialists on your team to tie your content to the company’s bottom line.

The task of becoming narrowly-focused may sound daunting at first, but it is worth the time you’ll spend learning new skills. By creating expertise in a future niche, you’re not only increasing the value and longevity of your career in PR, but the value you bring to clients, brands, and companies you work with. Building a PR career by becoming a PR specialist creates value, and we have the resources to help you with your transition.

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