Sharpen Your PRO Skills
What does it involve?
A text book definition of Public Relation would be something like - “The aim of public relations by a company often is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about it, its leadership, products, or of political decisions”. In effect it isa job that involves creating a favorable impression among the public and also do damage control as and when necessary so that the reputation of a concern remains intact.
A Public Relation Officer in a concern is one who is able to promote the image and reputation of the organisation he or she works for and basically the work involves a direct people to people contact and creating the right positive image .This makes work easy and communication effective for the organisation since the ground work has already been laid by the company's PRO. In a broader sense the job off a PRO also aims to establish and maintain a good understanding between the organisation and the public. Offten most of the dealings are done by the PRO department which becomes an integral and important part of an organisation.
Nowadays with the increased media and press coverage and exposure the job and position has become very important and people with good communication skills are sought out by large organisations to promote their organisation in a favorable manner. The more you are seen and heard the more you tend to remain in public memory and this is a fact that is well known to these organisations. The job of keeping them constantly in news is carried out by the PRO. So it becomes the job of a PRO to project his or her clients in the most advantageous manner - it could be an organisation, a film star or a film or an event that is being held on a regular basis. All of these require the service of a PRO to promote and sustain public interest.
Public relations officers use different types of media to reach their chosen audience, it could be pamphlets and ads in the newspapers and magazines or TV ads or using the internet which is now considered a very powerful tool . They also assess public opinion about the company's status and popularity and advise their clients on different approaches of putting across their public personas most effectively. It is very essential to create a mutual understanding between the company and the clientele. One can go so far as to say that PRO is in effect a social msdia controlled by a department within an organisation.
How do they work?
Although it might sound like an easy job it is definitely not all that it appears to be since a lot of skill and hard work is involved and the PRO is responsible in his or her own way to the reputation and stature of an organisation. As explained earlier the main job of Public Relations department in an organisation is to create and maintain mutual understanding between the organisation and the public it serves and to create this understanding a lot of work is involved like for Example- Press Liaison ( involving the press by giving interviews), Corporate Brochures ( distributed through the office), Annual Reports ( sent to the general public and investors), Sponsorship and Event Management ( these are done with the target of image building).
Other than that the work also involves planning strategies , organising and conducting activities that encourage dialogue about the organisation's reputation, policies, products and services, all of which are aimed at bringing the organisation to the notice of the public. Most large organisations these days have a separate PRO department that has the ability to carry out all the requirements.
The requirements of a PRO
Employers while employing a PRO look for skills in communication, confidence level, public speaking and the ability to co-operate with all other members of a team. Good communication and interpersonal skills are the two very essential and necessary attributes of a Public Relations Officer. It is also imperative for a Public relations officer to remain positive , be persuasive and be clear in his or her communications. It is also expected of a Public relation officer to have some basic knowledge of the organisation he or she is working for which helps him or her in their job.
Since the PRO department deals with all press and media coverage the person should have an understanding of design, layout and printing and some knowledge of film and video presentation techniques is definitely an added advantage. In effect he or she should be a Creative and have a good imagination.. A PRO also has to work from his office to keep in touch with the clients through mail which means that he or she should be able to write and express with clarity and be able to with the media and client.
Some of the qualities that are necessary to be a good PRO
1, Communication skills – This is the single most must have requirement for any PRO. Unless you are able to communicate at all levels you will not be considered for the job. Communication skill is the backbone of this job. We see some people in marketing jobs being able to close an order much more effectively than others because of their communicative skills
2, High Standard of Integrity - This is another very essential requirement that a PRO must possess. Personal integrity is essential in all organisations more so when it comes to PRO because you are creating an image of the organisation you represent for a client and first impressions and how trustworthy your reputation is plays a major part. In almost all cases, the sales professional or a PRO who instantly comes across as trustworthy and honest person also happens to be the one who possesses a high level of personal integrity.
3, Should be able to study the body language – Many times while dealing with would be clients one is able to sense what is going on in their mind just by the way they look at you and use hands and their facial expression to show either a positive or negative reaction to you. So body language of a person actually prepares you on what to expect and also make the necessary changes in your communication skills or be more persuasive when you see someone taking a tough stand. This skill of being able to gauge a persons reaction is very helpful in being a good PRO .
4,Never exploit your clients – The customers wishes should always be respected and any kind of sales talk or convincing should be done in an open and mutually congenial atmosphere rather than take advantage of a customer and exploit his or her weakness. In fact many a times we see sales being cancelled after it was confirmed probably because the buyer was not sure. So always make sure that when you are promoting your organisation do it in a fair and just manner and give enough time for the client to absorb and form his or her own opinion. When and if a client comes up with some criticism , one should have the knack of handling it without being offensive, by being neutral and adapt a strategy accordingly!
5,Being pro active – Even within the organisation one should be proactive and responsive to a crisis. Also be open to ideas when someone comes up with something innovative and new. You need to develop the right skills to find a balance wherein both sides remain satisfied. 6, Being knowledgeable and well informed – To be best in any field one must have the ability to absorb knowledge and information. I would further add that any knowledge is useful so don’t limit yourself, keep on gaining knowledge along with your work and you will see how it enhances your personality and self confidence. Most people especially those working for corporate offices tend to respect people who are knowledgeable and are able to speak intelligently on all subjects.
6,Leadership qualities - This is an added skill that helps those wanting a job dealing with Public relation. A good and able leader is one who is also open to suggestions and is sensitive to the needs of people. Just leading the way is not enough but one has to do it with confidence and with commitment.
7, Being Bold and courageous - When one is dealing at such a level , it is but expected that one comes across people from all walks of life and with different kinds of personalities. One may even get intimidated by some pushy and dominant people. One should have the courage and be bold while dealing with such people – put them in their place in a subtle manner without being offensive or rude.
8, Should be presentable at all times– Your looks and the way your carry yourself does matter in PRO jobs since it is all about making the right impression. Be neatly dressed without being too casual or too pompous but be formal and dignified . Never take liberties with your client unless you know them well . Take care of your health and eating habits since they all inter relate and show in your performance.If you are in poor health you are not able to give your best to any job.An agile and fit person is able to inspire others and commands admiration and respect.
9, Education and Qualifications - Although earlier PROs were not highly qualified ( A basic graduate degree would suffice ) but were employed on the basis of their inter personal communication skills, nowadays most organisations are particular about educational background. A good PRO these days is expected to have enough journalistic qualities and be media savvy. People having educational ground in journalism often become good public relation professionals.
10,Being Humane and people friendly – This is of course closely related to communication skills but is different to the extent that it involves one having good feeling for humanity. For example – taking care so that they don't promote something that may be hazardous to health or is going to harm the masses. People must read the code of ethics for PRO before considering the job even if the package is good. Ultimately if and when you decide to take up such jobs either because you need it or are desperate to land a job ,your reputation is going to suffer.
To conclude, We still hear about people who do a good job of Public Relation inspite of not being highly educated nor possessing all the qualities listed above. What is important is to have at least some of the qualities and keep inventing yourself and sharpening your skills to become better at your job. Practice and a keenness to improve yourself can perfect your skills with time.One should especially take care of one's weak points, since it is easy for others to take advantage of you. So, one should try to inculcate and acquire the above mentioned qualities and traits to be a good and thorough professional.
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