Cara Good

Article Summary:

Ten ways to boost your PR skills.

Boost Your PR Skills

Public relations and corporate communications professionals are under more pressure now than ever before to increase their skills and earn a seat at the executive table. CEOs today want your revenue-enhancing ideas but, more importantly, they want you to execute on those ideas quickly and cost-effectively.

Here are 10 ways to boost your PR skill set:

1. Be a joiner
Getting involved in PR organizations is the perfect way to make contacts and improve your understanding of the industry. Become a member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) or another industry association in your area. But don't stop at sending in a membership form. Be a joiner. Take on a leadership role and become active in a committee or on the board. The dividends are endless: exposure, contacts, knowledge and more.

2. Continue your formal education
Many universities have extension courses that allow professionals to deepen their knowledge and make industry connections. Some of these continuing education courses are online -- or, at least, on nights and weekends so you can bone up the latest industry trends without interrupting your work day.

3. Get certified
There is a reason we trust CPAs. They have three little letters after their names, designating industry credibility and certification. You, too, can obtain industry-specific credentials, such as the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) or Accredited in Public Relations (APR) designations.

4. Attend conferences
Go to conferences in your industry and attend speaking engagements featuring PR leaders. Check out trade publications for lists of upcoming events. Offer to be a speaker at an industry event if you are particularly skilled in a specific area.

5. Find a mentor
The best way to learn more about the industry is to find someone who has been there, done that. Learn from that person, then turn around and mentor someone else. Some organizations have formalized this idea. eWomenNetwork, the No. 1 resource for connecting and promoting women and their businesses, calls it "femtoring" and has trademarked the concept.

6. Keep abreast of media technology
Nothing changes faster than technology, and you must stay on top of it to be top in your field. Today, it's marketing in the age of "The Matrix." Learn about -- and practice -- podcasting, Webinars and blogging, and use RSS feeds.

7. Jump around
It's critical you learn everything there is to know about PR and corporate communications. Spend time learning media relations, investor relations, employee communications, corporate branding and more.

8. Polish that résumé
In today's fast-shifting job climate, there's no excuse: You must keep your résumé current. Even if you don't use it to search for a job, it's a great way to track accomplishments.

9. Read every day
Make daily industry reading part of your routine. My intake includes PR trades, such as PR Week, as well as business journals and newspapers.

10. Be financially savvy
You may have gone into communications because you like words, but numbers form the language of business. Develop your financial skills and find ways to quantify your efforts.

Cara Good is the co-founder and president of WunderMarx Inc., a fast-growing international public relations, marketing and branding firm representing some of the world's most innovative technologies and ideas. She has been quoted and featured in numerous articles on entrepreneurialism, public relations and marketing, and speaks frequently on these topics. For more information visit www.wundermarx.com

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