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    10 Transferable PR Principles to Set You Up for Success in Any Industry

    A lot of folks in comms roles come from diverse backgrounds, from journalist, to project and program management, to social media and more. There isn't one set of skills needed to "win" at practicing PR, rather, there are a host of skills that we employ to help us be successful in this field and beyond.


    Regardless of how you ended up in the comms or PR field, how long you've been practicing in the industry, or where you intend to go next with your career, this dynamic field gives us some pretty great skills that we can take forward to our future endeavors, professional or not.


    Today, we're sharing ten transferable PR principles that you can leverage to find success in any stage in your career, whether that's in PR or not. Special shout out to our wonderful Pitch Posse community who showed up and showed out on social with some excellent advice and wisdom for current (and future!) PR practitioners. 


    Principle #1: Empathy


    Sharpening your empathy skill can help you in any role, especially when working with managers and leadership. When preparing something for their review, prepare it in such a way that shows you thought one step ahead in considering the broader context they operate in. What challenges are they experiencing? What goals are they working toward? By addressing these questions preemptively, you can tailor your work to resonate more deeply. 


    Betsy DeMik, senior PR executive at Champion Management, notes that empathy "helps her think like a journalist" and put herself in their shoes. This way, she can anticipate any questions they might have or clarifications they might need before she ever has to ask. More broadly, she's able to apply this toward working with other stakeholders and audiences.  



    Principle #2: Thought Leadership


    Brian Hyland, co-founder and CEO of Cricket PR, shared that "true thought leadership is valuable in any industry," but that it has to provide value rather than basic back and forth. We couldn't agree more. 


    There isn't one singular "right way" to do thought leadership either. Like Brian notes below, the goal is to educate your audience on "their position in the industry" or "solve a specific problem," and doing so can look like sharing insights through the media, offering practical tips through blog content, or participating in conversations on social. The key is to provide genuine value and establish yourself as a trusted resource.


    Thought leadership is industry agnostic, and can be leveraged by folks across various disciplines, roles, and career levels.



    Principle #3: Simplicity in Comms


    There's a (slightly crass) acronym that sometimes rattles around the communications space, which is K.I.S.S. This stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid, and while it might sound a bit strange, the message is clear - simplicity is your friend! 


    Erika Thomas, founder and publicist at Coveted Portfolio, echoes this by noting that a valuable skill to her is being able to craft "simple explanations that resonate with all audiences." In PR, this can take the form of distilling the importance of a new tech launch in a pitch to a reporter or communicating the value of your services to a potential partner. 


    In other industries, you might need simplicity when presenting a complex set of data or explaining a process. In life, you'll probably use simplicity when explaining to a parent how to set up a Netflix account. 


    Two bonus traits that resonate with Erika? Respecting folks' time and gratitude. 



    Principle #4: Knowing Your Audience


    Maleeka Hollaway is an entrepreneur, professor, keynote speaker, and writer, and is no stranger to building connection with audiences. Similar to principle one, empathy, Maleeka notes that you should always be putting yourself in their shoes by "speaking to their desires, wants and needs and offering a solution." 


    Knowing your audience also helps you know your audience. Hear us out, this sounds strange, but when you've established to whom you're communicating and not just sending out generic messages you're more likely to stick the landing and resonate. As Maleeka says, "if you're communicating to [anyone], you're communicating to no one." 



    Principle #5: Being Succinct


    Short, sweet, to the point. These words are our mantra when pitching media, which we ideally try to keep to around 200-300 words. The art of being succinct and able to pull out useful details from a set of information is helpful, however, with any kind of written or spoken communication.  


    Teresa Spangler, communications and workforce development coordinator at Home Building Foundation, notes that in addition to being succinct, the ability to summarize is keenly useful. This can be, in Teresa's example, "writing headlines or "teasers" for broadcast stories," or outside the comms world, writing short emails recapping a recent meeting, or drafting project briefs.


    Being succinct and summarizing information can help anyone in any role convey key points while keeping folks engaged.



    Principle #6: Communicating Your Point


    Sometimes it can be tempting to add a lot of fluff and filler words in writing to meet a word count or sound more erudite, but all this is doing at the end of the day is burying what you are actually trying to say. Less is more in writing - refer back to principle 5!


    Senior PR manager at Duolingo Monica Earle shares that "getting your point across to busy decision makers is useful across any industry." Whether it's an email, Slack message, project report, or even a phone call, conciseness ensures your message is understood quickly and effectively, increasing the likelihood of action (and decreasing the likelihood of unnecessary back and forth).



    Principle #7: Innovation


    For principle 7, Paul Muolo, manager, marketing and communications at FirstService Residential, names innovation as a transferable PR skill. Not innovation as in creating the iPhone, rather "creative problem-solving and finding new ways to do things" because "what works in one industry can often be adapted and applied to another."


    In PR, we're innovative when we find a new angle to reach a reporter with or a new way to present and organize a quarterly report. In other fields, innovation might be as simple as switching up bookkeeping tactics to something more streamlined, or using tech applications to automate tasks in a business. 


    Whatever the innovation, it's always in service of the "cross-pollination of ideas and advancements."



    Principle #8: Storytelling


    Principle 8 might go without saying, especially for comms pros. Storytelling is one word to describe a whole host of strategies, tactics, methods and more for communicating a message. 


    Pam Kassner, PR and marketing comms pro and owner of Super Pear Strategies, defines storytelling as "the ability to capture interest and explain why you should care, why it matters and how it impacts you." This is relevant in any industry, because it's the human element that drives connection.


    Regardless of the sector, storytelling allows businesses to share their mission, values, and impact in a way that strikes a deeper chord with their audience. Whether you're promoting a product, advocating a cause, or building your brand recognition, storytelling builds emotional connections, trust, and pushes action.  



    Principle #9: Research Skills


    Peter Girard is the director of account services at Caster Communications and finds that "research connects all industries" and that in PR specifically, it's about "the ability to dig into new or complex topics and [spend] time researching the audience that will be most interested in what you (or your client) has to say."


    Good research and investigative skills extend past comms. Reading between the lines and uncovering valuable insights are essential in any profession where you need to make informed decisions, identify opportunities, and stay ahead of the curve. 


    Research isn't just Googling or reading an encyclopedia, either! It can take the shape of uncovering customer preferences and market trends and analyzing competitor news and data. However you're researching, flexing this muscle will help in any stage in your professional career.  



    Principle #10: Curiosity


    Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it's also gotten PR pros numerous impactful placements.  


    Aamir Abbasi is a PR practitioner who understands this and cites the "ability to identify newsworthy hidden stories" in different parts of the business operations as a key principle to know.


    This is a function of curiosity and the ability to ask questions to find gems and morsels of goodness even in parts of the business that might not seem as "glamorous." 



    We're proud to work in a field that teaches us skills and principles that can be carried on throughout our careers. From innovation, to research chops, to storytelling ability, and more, tuning up your soft skills is a great way to stay current in your role while keeping you prepared for future ones. 



    For more blogs like this, keep an eye on The TypeBar, for new insight weekly, and sign up below to stay up to date with our newsletter: 



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